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How Could You Not

Written by: Galway Kinnell | Biography
 | Quotes (1) |
 -- for Jane kenyon


It is a day after many days of storms.
Having been washed and washed, the air glitters; small heaped cumuli blow across the sky; a shower visible against the firs douses the crocuses.
We knew it would happen one day this week.
Now, when I learn you have died, I go to the open door and look across at New Hampshire and see that there, too, the sun is bright and clouds are making their shadowy ways along the horizon; and I think: How could it not have been today? In another room, Keri Te Kanawa is singing the Laudate Dominum of Mozart, very faintly, as if in the past, to those who once sat in the steel seat of the old mowing machine, cheerful descendent of the scythe of the grim reaper, and drew the cutter bars little reciprocating triangles through the grass to make the stalks lie down in sunshine.
Could you have walked in the dark early this morning and found yourself grown completely tired of the successes and failures of medicine, of your year of pain and despair remitted briefly now and then by hope that had that leaden taste? Did you glimpse in first light the world as you loved it and see that, now, it was not wrong to die and that, on dying, you would leave your beloved in a day like paradise? Near sunrise did you loosen your hold a little? How could you not already have felt blessed for good, having these last days spoken your whole heart to him, who spoke his whole heart to you, so that in the silence he would not feel a single word was missing? How could you not have slipped into a spell, in full daylight, as he lay next to you, with his arms around you, as they have been, it must have seemed, all your life? How could your cheek not press a moment to his cheek, which presses itself to yours from now on? How could you not rise and go, with all that light at the window, those arms around you, and the sound, coming or going, hard to say, of a single-engine plane in the distance that no one else hears?



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