The following poem, by Nicholas Campbell, will appear in the Spring, 2013 edition of Poetry Salzburg Review.E l e g y F o r T h e L i v i n g
for Benjamin Saltman (d.1999)
"He'll live on in his poems," someone said
of my old friend who is dying, as if he were
already a ghost haunting his books instead
of a house. I thought of a poem most like him
in which he'd become a house and thought,
When he's gone I'll knock down every wall
and not find him. "Can someone who has
lived, live on in a thing and be truly alive?"
I said, and then I read his poem.
He was there. I heard his voice say he was
a house that "does not want to move," as I've
wanted myself to say: If I could be a house
someone could enter after I'm gone I'd be there!
If he'll sleep when this book isn't read
I'll read it every day to wake him.
As I've heard of a child I know who tries to wake her
dog by pouring water on its grave.
"Cleo's in the grass," she told her mother
and then said, "That's okay. That's okay,
grass is everywhere." And didn't I hear
my old friend say this but in another way?
"Now I'm here but then I'll be everywhere."
So he'll likely be: I'll carry his book everywhere
with me. Maybe I'll hear one morning as I read
a poem of his without dread of him being
lost say: "Holding on is as good as flying."