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Better None

The storm passed like a fever. Now the residual snow
fits across Monodnock, a specific abyss: down the Asheolot Valley

to the river's roots, tucks under the ice at the rim of the reservoir
and pulls taut. Strange, that no pine or hawk or printing animal has punctured it,

through a night and a day and a night. I respect its blank
precision. By the end a man I loved also insisted on dying.

Alone in his body, he insisted. Even the snow is warmer
than that rage, that blank page. Now not

even if I had the power. How could I choose
pain for him, to keep the dead alive a little? Better none

than an elegy fed on grief like that, constantly
changing, constantly freshened and greedy.


Stephen Tapscott


[This poem appears in Tapscott's From the Book of Changes (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)]