the dear departed (lovers that have gone)

the dear departed
                 lovers that have gone

angels that once terrified us
                 threatening to bring death

so near as love
                 sometimes return.

these lost loves,
                 whose provenance and history

is harder than a coin
                 passing hand to hand

through all the dull business
                 of the commonwealth,

arrive at our aching arms
                 unexpected.

the strange gifts of a stranger,
                 a once familiar mind.

thoughts that tasted like water,
                 answering an ancient need.

we may go down to the shore
                 and take a boat to be more

completely under a sky we knew
                 at a happier time,

remember love
                 like one who is newly blind remembers color,

listen to our bodies sing
                 their old pain.

our untasted souls,
                 we hoped would feed another life

to propagate our own,
                 make, at any spot we stop to feel,

the feast of questions
                 loving is.
Originally published in Out of the Box: Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Poets, edited by Michael Farrell and Jill Jones, Puncher & Wattmann Poetry, 2009