Because This Life Is Brief

Cathedrals rise over cobblestone towns.

Because this life is brief we learn to write

our names in granite. There is elegy

because this life is brief. We make stories

from patterns we come across in the stars

but the dead don’t see the stars or feel

the rain, and if space is really expanding

infinitely, then this life grows shorter

with every shudder of the skies above.

Because this life is brief and winter sleeps

in our bones, we stretch every summer day

past the slip of darkness, to the silence

when even the crickets call it a night

and the moon slides behind the empty mills

as we wait, watching for stars to come down.

Because even the stars will one day fail.

A man who understands his life is brief

rides elevators all the way up to see

the streets of his home like never before,

or maybe takes the stairs and stops at every

floor to speak with every perfect stranger.

But if my father could write a poem from

wherever the dead find themselves after

they die, I imagine he’d write a poem

that says to stay outside and wait for rain,

to watch how every drop holds light, to hear

the hiss when it kisses the summer street.


BRIAN SIMONEAU is the author of River Bound (C&R Press, 2014), which won the 2013 De Novo Prize. His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Cave Wall, Crab Orchard Review, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Normal School, Southern Humanities Review, and other journals. He grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, and now lives in Connecticut with his wife and two daughters.

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