“Memory,” by Hayden Carruth from Doctor Jazz (Copper Canyon Press).
A woman I used to know well died
A week ago. Not to be mysterious:
She and I were married. I'm told
She fell down dead on a street in
Lower Manhattan, and I suppose
She suffered a stroke or a heart attack.
The last time I saw her was in the spring
Of 1955, meaning forty-four
Years ago, and now when I try
To imagine her death I see in my
Mind a good-looking, twenty-nine-
Year-old woman sprawled on the pavement.
It does no good to go and examine
My own ravaged face in the bathroom
Mirror; I cannot transpose my ravage-
Ment to her. She is fixed in my mind
As she was. Brown hair, brown eyes,
Slender and sexy, coming home
From her job as an editor in a huge
Building in midtown. Forty-four
Years is longer than I thought. My dear,
How could you have let this happen to you?