Gifts for the Dead

It is, I'm afraid, far less noble
than it sounds. The artfully cracked dish
we brought back from Japan still wears
its department-store bow; your grandmother's death
came before Christmas.

And once, ten years after we buried him,
the Yiddish Book Center wrote my grandpa
for money. "You give them these," my grandma murmured,
pressing yellowed paperbacks
into my arms.
Her funeral was only nine months later,
and still the books hang like lead weights
on my shelf.

They glitter, the secret trophies of our failures:
the tasteful sympathy cards we never sent,
the half-finished notebook pages crisp
with expired declarations of love.
We are running out of space.

photograph by flickr user bitzi


Chris Hubbard said...

This one for sure!

Elizabeth said...

This one makes me want to weep. I second Chris.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Chris and Elizabeth. This poem is all sorts of excellent

Kevin Allen Jr. said...

um, yeah. seriously. what everyone else said.

Lena said...

Oooh, Kate. This is lovely. I agree with all the other commentators on this one. :)

By the way, this is Lena--we went to MHC together. Clara linkd to your blog on her livejournal, which is how I found your blog.

Good luck!
Lena Wood MHC '05

Kate Horowitz said...

Thanks, Lena! It's great to hear from you! Hope all is well.

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