An Elegy

by Wendell Berry

I stand at the cistern in front of the old barn
in the darkness, in the dead of winter,
night strangely warm, the wind blowing,
rattling an unlatched door.
I draw the cold water up out of the ground, and drink.

At the house the light is still waiting.
An old man I've loved all my life is dying
in his bed there. He is going
slowly down from himself.
In final obedience to his life, he follows
his body out of our knowing.
his hands, quiet on the sheet, keep
a painful resemblance to what they no longer are.

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