You’re dead, poet who could smooth
the language like a sheet over
the body of a dying lover,
who made me realize how soothe
meant show the truth. That was the weight
you balanced lightly on your tongue.
Too young, too crude, or too high-strung,
I understand at last, too late
to tell you, how much you’ve impressed
on me, my brain’s wet clay—your thumb
has ridged and whorled, your fingers drum
tight little rhythms still.
—Craig Arnold, opening lines to “Ubi sunt … ?“ from Shells (Yale University Press, 1999), v.93 of the Yale Series of Younger Poets