By Max Wickert

… and again say goodbye, let it go

again, leave the skin, the house, the new

life in the scrappy old limbs. Cold, cold

blows the wind and breath is cold. The world

begs to be left alone. You and I

are through, again and again. Goodbye,

farewell, goodbye is our gospel, our

good news, our ultimate desire.

Amen, I will be with you always

cries the voice of the last stone, the voice

of the chill wind that blows upward –, up

through the tatters and holes of our sleep,

forsaking, releasing all we are

and all we will ever be elsewhere,

letting out the child in the belly,

the bee in the hollow tree, the cry

in the pain, the sweetness in the grape,

the red blood in the heart’s covered cup,

the fire in the mountain, the brain

in the skull, the huge toad sleeping in

the stone of the world, the word

behind the teeth, the girl clutched in a boy’s hand.

MAX WICKERT will be the featured guest of the SUNY Empire State College Reading Series at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the college’s Niagara Frontier Center in the Appletree Business Park, 2875 Union Road in Cheektowaga. A professor emeritus in English at the University at Buffalo, he is a poet, translator, and the publisher of Outriders Poetry Press. This poem is from his first collection, “All the Weight of the Still Midnight” (1972), which has recently been republished in a second, expanded edition.