Why nothing lived for her
she could not guess,
only some mornings when
she woke and dressed
one tulip at the sill
was bowed inside,
its petals splayed or dropped
where it had died,

or in the garden plot
beyond the hedge
some new natural ill
had visited
and left, for her remorse,
or lily stricken brown
and withering.

Lying beside her love
she shared his breath,
lamenting in the dark
her knack with death
until, after a time,
she was disturbed
to feel his heart had stopped
for her black words.

To such sad ladies
none can give advice,
unless to say love is
as loving does,
and there are always men
—one I know well—
risking themselves to learn
what beauty tells.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 9 Number 1, on page 56
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com