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by Simon Perchik

In the silence above your grave a butterfly

waits for your eyes to open, hears

their pollen living off the darkness

and for a long time this way and that

returns with dirt in its mouth

to find who buried you—not yet a bird

it sifts for step by step though the ground

is still breathing in the smoke

fires don’t want anymore—from memory

one wingtip will follow the other

loosen the huge stone looming over you

as cradlesong made from wood and side to side

as if there is a name for afterward

some ashes will still cover the shoes

mourners unlace just for the sound.


Simon Perchik (December 24, 1923 – June 14, 2022) was an American poet who has been described by Library Journal as "the most widely published unknown poet in America." Perchik worked as an attorney before his retirement in 1980. Educated at New York University, he later resided in East Hampton, New York. Best known for his highly personal, non-narrative style of poetry, Perchik's work has appeared in over thirty books, websites including Verse Daily and Jacket, and numerous print magazines, including The New Yorker, Poetry, Partisan Review, The Nation, North American Review, Weave Magazine, JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, and CLUTCH. His poetry collection, Hands Collected, was longlisted for the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry.


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