When we go limp and brown, for mercy’s sake
leave us alone; don’t mangle our last shoots
to press in any book; we have no stake
in memory. Look, even our roots

give up their modest holdings underground,
and with no more excuse than one or two
chilly October nights, leave what they found
with so much effort then, when it was new.

Don’t snip off sprigs to root for any spring,
gifts for admiring neighbors who drift by
and praise your green thumb—as if anything
you do could cancel even one goodbye.

You can’t. Pretend you know it; anyhow
accept it, as we do—and you, by now.

Read an interview with the poet.