Under the green domes of maples light spangles the abundant slabs of moss. Grass won’t grow here, but something else has taken over. When I went into the drugstore yesterday the clerk who moved away had been replaced by a girl who looked so much like her I thought for a moment she’d come back to town with her hair cut. And in the second grade, when Bobby Markley died, a new boy from Ohio promptly sat beside me at his desk. Out here, in the city park, people are almost always interchangeable, though the summer I’ll hate to lose supplants itself with a wan and amber sun that isn’t quite the same, reminding me of larger griefs not easily consoled. “Life is the saddest thing there is, next to death,” Edith Wharton wrote, she who walked so often in the park listening to the old, remembered voices. She must have sat under trees not unlike this one, heavy with sorrows she couldn’t speak aloud. She mourned her friends, and one friend like no other, while the late sunlight passed across the grasses, and now she too is gone.
Copyright © 2017 Patricia Hooper. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Spring 2017.