by gerard varni


When a woman dies too young,

Say at 42,

Her bones broken,

Her body bruised

Beyond recognition

Much less repair;

When she dies


In the street

Amid rainbow-hued pools

Of water and gasoline

And blood,

Anointed on a bed

Of broken glass

In a twisted metal embrace;


When a woman dies this way,

Who suffers the greatest loss?

The husband?

The children?

(surely, the infant

left sucking

at dry air)

The sister? father? pastor? friends?


No, none of these

Is the one;

It is the woman herself.

Never again to feel

Her lover's caress,

Never to see

Her child's smile,

Never again

to soothe

to laugh

to love

to pray