Nil Desperandum

by A.M. Broadous
February 2022

for Zach Peffer


I wonder about the ceremony before the ceremony. 
Was there a dinner of roast duck, hold the peanut sauce, 
or one last pluck of nylon strings?
Cradle the neck gently and release.
That’s the story we all would’ve preferred.
I wish the rope had refused you,
had instead sung you a song sweeter
than those we practiced around the piano
and perfected in baby-blue vests we
wore before we knew how to wear them,
before we knew how fast cold
autumn air could rob a melody.
I still remember how you left us, 
skin gray as baseboard dust, eyes drawn like shades
against the morning, which did not so much
rise as fell with jaundiced light over the valley.
Your stiff black suit just dared you to stir
into a more comfortable sleeping position.
For the first time, there was no music, just
stories, flower garlands that kept up
their appearances as well as I could.
There were half-smiles given 
away like so much Halloween candy.
Weary fluorescent lights lived because they had
no other choice in this world, unless quickened
to everyone’s loss by a switch and
struck dumb with sudden night.
How the dark would’ve sung my 
tears so loudly.