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R. T. Castleberry

Sketch for Mourning

I do not sit to rest

But dream and drink this sweet, Sunday wine

As August moves to September

And the summer women turn their faces to fall’s cool edge.

In the high haze of morning heat

I stand in the doorway

And watch the brown curl and fall of leaves

            on cracked and pebbled walkways,

            on stairways of creaking wood or marble.

I lean to lift my drink from the stoop

And walk out to sit in the cool, dry smell of bamboo and brick.


I have people to mourn.

And I will do it with sweet, dark liquor,

Within the silence of this stained glass bar,

The quiet between the call and the response of a Motown oldies hit.

As I walk to stand unsteady at the railing

The white and grey of ice turns

To the swift symphony of old radio songs and the dances of skaters,

To the blast and shriek of teen-agers in play.

As I stand in the cool, half shadows of fall

Or walk, to stumble in confusion,

I can hear the oily strain and click of a builder’s crane,

The cries of men as they work in concrete dust or mud.

I hear the laughter fade as the summer women tremble and move home.

I have people to mourn.

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