Since You Arrived

I’ve made it my job to think about death. 

Outside, in the chill darkness.


Stars show up in fits and starts as if 

we’re to decode them. Maybe death 

comes on like that: lit, pulsing.  


Or like wind in the hedgerow 

touching every needle, setting the cypress 

in motion, but really nothing.  


Since you arrived, gave me the news, 

I’ve been here on the headland,  

watching black waves. Slip away, surge.


Maybe it’s a return. Maybe fluid.  

Summertime, at night, by the sea, 

it doesn’t seem that frightening. 


You’re inside, back at the house,  

taking an infusion of friends’ voices.  

I’ve made it my job to think about death.

Yours, to practice staying alive.  


Beverly Burch’s fiction and poetry have appeared in New England Review, North American Review, Antioch Review, Willow Springs, Southern Humanities Review and Poetry Northwest. Her second poetry collection, How A Mirage Works, won the Sixteen Rivers Press competition and was a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award. Her first, Sweet to Burn, won the Gival Poetry Prize and a Lambda Literary Award. Her She is a psychotherapist in Berkeley.