Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Eternity

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Eternity

Article excerpt

Because Lena's not yet three,

she doesn't know the reason for this place.

"I like this little house. And this little house,"

she says as she loops around them

-the play-size "houses" of the dead.

Here in Key West, as in New Orleans,

where the land and sea are nearly level,

some are set just above the surface,

and Lena leans on their "big stone beds."

But since Lena's not yet three,

she doesn't know what any of it means:

she doesn't know where the earth rolls away to

every night while she's asleep

or who rolls with it-some above it, some below.

And because she doesn't know,

she moves in waves of joy

like the spirit on the surface of the waters

-before it ever thought of light.

She squeezes between two "beds"

that are stretched out side by side

one's bigger than the other

and pats them, left then right,

and reunites what slipped apart a hundred years ago:

a mother-and her child of a day.

We learn this from their surnames and the dates

-but Lena doesn't read,

and there's no reason to explain.

We watch her bolt through the gate

where the men of the Maine

sail on in shipshape rows

as she splashes among their stones. …

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