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CRIB DEATH

With crib death a baby's lungs, weak, fragile,
become overstressed, and collapse like little
pink tents; the brain darkens quickly
as if a screen unplugged, unrecoverable,
or so the article says as it reports
new findings from a European study.

I read this on the evening train,
on the Feast of the Transfiguration,
no longer a Holy Day in the East.
I turn the page, look for something different,
a celebrity, some bright colors.

Later, I remember a story recounted
by Camus, of a man who, after the death
of his child, for five years lived his life
with complete normalcy, and then killed
himself. For five years he'd been undermined
by a quiet despair, the modern question.

I imagine him going to work, walking the dog,
talking steadily to his wife. I find his grief
a circle, not a line. At night I think
of this and other things while watching
red numbers turn over on the clock.

      — Steve Harris