“For the Poet Taken Away” by Ruth Z. Deming

(in memory of Jane Kenyon, 1947-1995)



I was looking for
a book of poetry
skinny books being
easier on one’s chest for
bedtime reading.


Finding one,
I brought it to the sales girl
who sighed and said,
“Oh, dear,
it doesn’t have a bar code.”


Ah, blessed day
for poets and for me.
I looked at the back cover,
clean, unmarred
by that fat
disorderly line-up of sticks.


“No wonder,” I said to the sales girl.
“The author has just died
and probably took them with her.”


On my way to the car
I invited the poet
to slip inside me.
“Use my body any time you wish,”
I said and waited, my feet
pattering on the pavement,
for some sort of inner settling
that never came.


I showed her
the cluster of winter weeds,
their tassels dark with age.
Somehow, in the construction
of this aromatic new Barnes and Noble,
they managed to escape
the carnage that befell the
more obvious trees and woodlands.


Did she miss them?
these earthly delights -
thick-maned dogs, ponds, frosty maples -
images from her poems.


I will miss them,
when the time comes,
something as simple as
the back of my hand
creased with wrinkles;
fingernails, all without
a family trait.








Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.