top of page



           The caption said that you

        Lost the fight against cancer,

     But I doubt very much that your

Smooth little fingers ever formed a fist:

     In harmony, you were for everything,

        Against nothing, too fluid to take a stance.


             As I glimpsed your rounded face,

         My eyes began to weep for the child

      That lay dead in most everyone;

   And yet your eyes remained clear,

Timeless till the very end: for you

   Never settled into your skin;

      Never hid behind a mask

         That would require lifetimes to shed

            To reclaim your lost innocence.


        Perhaps you were too young to know

     That you were supposed to suffer;

  Too free to be bound by expectations:

Even if your resilience startled the masks

  That surrounded you, awaiting your death,

     To feel comfortable again beneath them.


                 Disease was likely your friend,

        Your oldest companion; the treatments,

   Your only pain, but even they were not

 Your enemy: pain, to you, was exciting,

   A new experience that roused your senses

      But you welcomed anyway, and thus, 

          Knew only a short while.


               For you saw how resistance 

      Could seize the vulnerable faces 

That swayed above your crib, keeping smiles

   Far from their borders and, surrendered,

      You could give no more weight to death.



          You carried instead, the torch

      Of the joy they abandoned, fueling it

   With songs where raindrops

Became lemon drops and gumdrops.

  Nature was ever sweet upon your lips:

     You, who were yet to cast a shadow,

       To darken the innocence that smiled at you

         from the heart of every thing.


                You were born an old man, 

           Having held hands with death 

      While still in the womb; yet you 

  Lived more in days than most in years

And you knew nothing of time, 

Which was your greatest blessing: 

  For time begins where wonder ends,

      And in you, like a relentless flame,

           Wonder burned strong till the very end

                Of your fourteen month stay.

A Wonderful Death  

*Composed in Northfield, MN, one morning, upon seeing the headlines of a local 14-month old boy who had died from cancer.Also likely inspired by Rilke, whom I'd been reading a lot of at that time and whom to this day remains perhaps my favorite poets, having so ceaselssly plumbed the depths for its Beauty. 

bottom of page