by Wendell Berry

The longer we are together

the larger death grows around us.

How many we know by now

who are dead! We, who were young,

now count the cost of having been.

And yet as we know the dead

we grow familiar with the world.

We, who were young and loved each other

ignorantly, now come to know

each other in love, married

by what we have done, as much

as by what we intend. Our hair

turns white with our ripening

as though to fly away in some

coming wind, bearing the seed

of what we know. It was bitter to learn

that we come to death as we come

to love, bitter to face

the just and solving welcome

that death prepares. But that is bitter

only to the ignorant, who pray

it will not happen. Having come

the bitter way to better prayer, we have

the sweetness of ripening. How sweet

to know you by the signs of this world!

David LaMotte


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