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Nov. 22, 2009


A year ago today, my son's company suffered its first deaths in Afghanistan.
...I've been trying to write, myself, a poem about those ancient Japanese ceramic cups, rustic in appearance, the property at some point of a holy monk, one of the few possessions he allowed himself. In a later century, someone dropped and broke the cup, but it was too precious to simply throw away. So it was repaired, not with glue, which never really holds, but with a seam of gold solder. And I think our poems are often like that gold solder, repairing a break in what can never be restored perfectly. The gold repair adds a kind of beauty to the cup, making visible its history...

- Letter from poet Alfred Corn to poet Mark Doty on the death of Doty's love.
For me, I've come with a certain age to realize that people can deal with tragedy by throwing their lives away, or by gluing themselves together and trying to pretend that the tragedy never happened (something that never lasts), or ultimately by soldering the broken places with gold - call it God's love, the love of and for the departed, or just the gold of wisdom.

I hope someday that today becomes - for Rachel Nolen, and for the Atlas and Tynes families - a wound soldered with gold.

Until then, I hope that they know that they will never be alone today.
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