The Collected Poems
by Reynolds Price

Just as I head into the Dying Belt,
As my father called it-when friends and enemies
Roughly my age begin to wink out
Naturally-I find myself
Assaulted still by the wrenching off
Of far younger friends with stingier portions
At this long feed than I (and I feeding yet).
    Now you, Douglas, ground to death

In the monster claw of the crab in your vitals;
And the poem I wrote you a year ago
Still unpublished-well, you read it
And hailed me back through the wide air between us
(Tennessee, Carolina) with a Roman poise,
A courtly gravity becoming our best days
A dozen years back when we trusted each other
Through a dangerous night and walked out saved
In hot August dawn.
    Vale, fratre.
Atque ave.

©Copyright Reynolds Price, 1997. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system now or hereafter invented, without permission in writing from the Publisher.