A gallery of faces fills your mind, each one

a wave, and your dreams a slough of memory

that conjures up a row of heads on spikes of thought.

Each fills the present and binds you

to the past as to an unforgiving wall.


Then you go to the river looking for one

who’s only just left.  You call and call

and the black swan comes without words; the place

between his wings is empty.  Not time yet.

No matter how bereft or how much you want to go

you wait until the hour comes when you’ll

cross as we’ll all cross, eyes closed or open,

toward those who’ve gone ahead, those

you remember now as from a crumbling wall

that bids you turn and return to this world.


                                                    Nellie Hill