For Pat Fargnoli


The laundry is folded
the dishes are washed
it is evening

darkness cradles us
we turn on the tv
to distract ourselves

from whatever we fear

is it the sinkhole of poverty
the cage of sickness
the crack in the teacup

that leads to the lane of the dead
I am following just behind you
studying your gait

how you kept going
creating loveliness from all of that
right to the end

how you engaged the seasons
even the winter darkness
even the loneliness

writing everything down
so that now I have
a map to follow

through darkness and old snow
your bootprints showing
where to go



Alicia Ostriker is a poet and critic. Her most recent poetry collections are Waiting for the Light (2017) and The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems 2002-2019 (2020). As a critic she is the author of Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America (1986) and other books on poetry and on the Bible. She lives with her husband in New York City and was the New York State Poet Laureate in 2018-2021.

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