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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Elegy for A Dying Colleague

 

Language, thou art too narrow, and too weak

To ease us now; great sorrow cannot speak.


                                                -John Donne, “Elegy”

He was going to read a paper on John Donne

at an academic conference in the South,

“was going,” the phrase is a past future,

time devours his days

he’s two weeks short of

death and I am thinking

of his dead conference paper - the one

he wrote and will never read.

The graying snow has turned

to mud, glum finches jostle,

glutton at the feeder

spill excess thistle seed

upon the ground, sparrows

scavenge on the crumbs,

and he lies curled and quaking

to the tolling of Donne’s bell.

 

―Charlotte F. Otten