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They waked you just below the altar in a room
entirely too large for someone of your slight stature;
a small, rural church with little stained glass,
no pillars, only two rows of pews. I saw it coming,
the death I mean, years before when you held
a reserved hand on your chest, having raised your voice
in an act of discipline for something I’d done, but
have long forgotten, while I stood above you a full
six inches or more. I felt then a young Tiresias
approaching a scene for which I’d be remembered,
not by history or some tragic character in a play,
but by a version of myself, perhaps a little older,
perhaps much older, dredging a moment through
sand and libation on each anniversary of that day. 
I was blind to that physiological disruption of yours,
to my own small but recurrent part in it, and now
like a fool imagine some regret in my possession
for having prevented nothing at all. As if
I could have.
                        Birthdays are a kind of purgatory,
a voice whispering unwelcomed thoughts into the ear’s
gaping abyss; how can we but listen to those vibrations,
drummings that fill the cavities of our auditory canals,
that echo far into the histories of ourselves? ~ Stephen Rowe

Stephen Rowe is from Heart's Content, Newfoundland and now lives in Gander. His poems have appeared in such publications as CV2, TheAntigonish Review, The NewfoundlandQuarterly, The Society 2008, Iota, Riddle Fence, Famous Reporter, and Rhythm Poetry Magazine. Never More There, his first collection of poems, was released by Nightwood Editions in 2009.

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