Rachel Hadas


Pass It On, III

Lilacs look neon in fading light.
Death makes life shine:
a tiredness, a flickering between

ages, which is each age;
a piling up to tottering
and falling back to sand.

So much for cycle. The front door lock
sticks each fall when we’ re first back.
We are advised to oil it.

Olive oil in the keyhole:
again the old key turns.
Once again to meander

along the edge of water,
whether tideless sea or tidal river,
pushing the stroller, dreaming


Ida and Isidor Straus sleep side by side
eternally in an Egyptian galley
fronting their Woodlawn mausoleum.
Symbolically they lie. Their boat is small;
nor was her body recovered from the Titanic.
And yet the image of the voyage holds.

Why not embark? A river runs behind me
on the other side of this dark window.
A dream called Night Boat
arranged us side by side in a black craft,
sailing the river of forgetfulness
until the stars went out.

The End of Summer

Sweet smell of phlox drifting across the lawn —
an early warning of the end of summer.
August is fading fast, and by September
the little purple flowers will all be gone.

Season, project, and vacation done.
One more year in everybody’ s life.
Add a notch to the old hunting knife
Time keeps testing with a horny thumb.

Over the summer months hung an unspoken
aura of urgency. In late July
galactic pulsings filled the midnight sky
like silent screaming, so that, strangely woken,