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Also by Gregory Sellers:
What the Winds Says | Elegy with a Bird's Shadow | Elegy for Those Not Yet Departed

Elegy with a Bird's Shadow*

In Memory of Larry Levis

He spoke of death as if he had lived it,
and I listened with the faith of a believer,
his words-soft, rivered fire, the nuzzled breath
of his father's horses in late December.
And the lines bit like a twist from some twitch,
bringing me to notice from that night on
more than I had before. In a month,
the inconspicuous grass began to spread
as a clutch of whispers along the ditch bank,
each haunting rasp, a faint voice that would
eventually find me. His own lines,
still purling like furnaced metal, never quite
cooled. I set every palpable moment
worth bronzing. What I remember most
is not his solemn form behind the lectern,
nor the perfect gray jacket that offered
his poems, but the reception afterwards
where a banquet table, the centerpiece
for this room, brandished its dessert trays
with the touch of a New York City gala,
and the graduate students, huddled in
their usual excludable way, lavished the other
guest poets with praises while he sat alone
in a corner darkened to shadows
as if he did not belong or even cared to,
his mind already on some flight
back to Utah, or even further
to a field another summer gave
where the haze-held afternoons
of horses grazing now sweep
as briefly as a moment itself
when some bird's dark shape
graced across a sun-glossed mare,
its winged shadow, a crucifix
for memory to wear.

*revised since its original appearance in CLR

Printed in the Fall/Winter 1998 issue of CLR

Gregory Sellers

Greg Sellers received his B.A. in English at Louisiana State University and earned his M.F.A. in creative writing at Arizona State University. The recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and a Pushcart nomination, Sellers has been recognized by the University of Mississippi for his contributions as a creative writing instructor and has been selected national Teacher-of-the-Year for 2002 by River of Words. His poems recently have appeared in Poetry and other work is forthcoming in New Letters. He currently teaches creative writing at All Saints' Episcopal School in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

You can find Gregory Sellers on the web at:
—  Poetry Magazine


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