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Betsy Holleman Burke



A warm December day, thousands

of geese wait on the pond. Hundreds

of cattle wait on the hillside. A dozen

horses wait in the paddock. Time waits.


Her sons, brother and sister arrive

from the South. We talk about debut

parties, college children, the view,

our family. Everything, nothing.


We speak little about my cousin

transplanted to this estate. By grace

she made it her own, embraced

a huge family, its mythical patriarch.




The way to say good-bye

is through the heart.

Empty it out


say it straight –


I blurt, this stinks, regret it,

too crude. I apologize, fumble.


Try again. Something more

elegant, profound, memorable.

My last chance.


We hold tight, tear up, do not weep.

Try to be strong, fail.


Of course, we fail.


Little Falls Creek after a snowstorm. Photo by Henry Brown.

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