Marie Howe

1950 / Rochester, New York / United States

The Promise

In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,

he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if
there were a law against it, a membrane he
couldn't break

His silence was what he could not
not do, like our breathing in this world,
like our living.

As we do, in time.
And I told him: I'm reading all this
Buddhist stuff,

and listen, we don't die when we die. Death is
an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on

and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me.
It was the look we'd pass

across the table when Dad was drunk again
and dangerous,
the level look that wants to tell you something,

in a crowded room, something important,
and can't
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