have tense, like verbs—future, present, past. I can’t remember how I learned
the nouns that mean to me,
and can’t forget the ones I know.

The nouns that mean to me
are stars
in my familiar sky. I love them all,
even those I hate,
because they make my world.
When one is lost, or dies,
its light goes out.
I see the hole that’s where it used to be.

I have a patchwork quilt that’s made of lead.
Each time a noun that means to me is lost, or dies, I add a square. My quilt keeps gaining weight,
but I must carry it everywhere.
Soon the weight will be too much. I will
have to stop and rest.
You may see me, looking tired,
staring at the sky.
Later I will stop for good, wrap myself,
and sleep.
The starlight will not wake me.
The quilt will keep me warm.

—ca. 1984

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