Fragments (based on a work of Sappho)

By Mary Eleanor Hodgkins

"...and honestly I just don't know that she is dead."
I had not misheard him.
The appropriate place inside of me
Wept, not understanding; I remembered how she had wept at each of our leavings.
If she had had her way,
"Please stay forever!"

We did not stay, replying:
"Time for home!"

She did not stay either,
But I didn't know that when...
I didn't know even when he said it.
When we said farewell for the last time
I did not know
That it was the last time.

But if I had known,
If I could have seen the blank future,
Before our you: "The days of pinecones in baskets and
Fall sunshine...
...a bag of bay leaves, dry and aromatic.
The many times after seeing you,
Smelling of garlic and basil,
Hoping to be washed in your gentle lotion."

Later I knew,
While all around me the laughter and joy
Was spreading like waves,
Washing over the quiet rock of me,
Leaving tears dripping off.
What could I say to him?

Then the music started,
But you can't cry and sing at once.
...I can't.
I wept then, and did not sing,
And my weeping was not appropriate,

"Every holiday brings a remembrance from you,
Even the little ones.
Your fingernails...always perfectly round.
Sweet delicacies, thin and crisp,
Handmade with thoughts of home... And knowing that 'Your children are the world'
And the world will miss you."

Then in spite of my weeping
I was singing.