This poem was a finalist for Plough’s 2022 Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award.

I think of the dead, the disposition of
the grave, the marble here arrayed. I’ve found
my words to be but parodies of sound
or parodies of silence, and (above
all else, perhaps) mere parodies of love.
The ‘heartlessness’ of words, you wrote (you, bound,
as I), lies in their opacity. We sound
their depths—the force of clarity, a cove-
nant. Over by the Mall, the cherry trees
are finishing their dance, and the monuments
are softened by the scent of fading blooms.
Our wounded earth is flooded with a sea
of petals that flick and flutter as they’re spent.
Her broad back bends beneath their soft perfume.