On Recomposition

"You shall leave everything you love most dearly: 
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others’ bread, how salt it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
descending and ascending others’ stairs."
                                   ~ Dante, Paradiso 17, 55-60


Yes it's true: already we are those
who will call this time ancient               

that fills with the noise of lamentations
and our daily count of the dead. We are

those who come to know acutely 
the cost of exile and how we call this

either fear of return or indefinite
quarantine. And yet I've asked  you

to keep back a handful of my body's
ashes from the rest I'd promised would go

with you into that final resting place—
I'd like that small part to find its way

back to some mountainside with a stand
of pine, with a milky cover of fog: whatever

might survive our time into another beyond
debt or hatred, pity or remorse. By then,

perhaps estrangement will have turned to clear-
eyed love; distance into what never leaves.

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