This week’s poem, which appears on Easter, offers a story about a kind of secular ceremony created to remember someone who has died. It is no less holy and, through its details – that “fine wine dust” and a 9-year-old’s “pint-size fist” – shows us how those who have gone can live on: in a moment, in a poem, in us.

Marc Swan lives in Portland, and his poetry collections include “In a Distinct Minor Key” (2007) and “Simple Distraction” (2009).

A Gift

By Marc Swan

For A.C.S.

And when the gulls dropped down within a long arm’s reach

we tossed broken Twinkies stuffed hurriedly by small hands

high into the air. The gulls swooped up, catching thick pieces

in their beaks, swallowing whole what may have been a femur

or a tibia or a rib burned down into fine wine dust, a few little

chunks, but mostly dust. My nine-year-old daughter beside me

stuffing more Twinkies, laughing at this adventure – grandpa

loved those Twinkies. She grasps this gift in her pint-size fist,

eyes expectant; oh the patience she held waiting minute upon

minute for the right moment to toss up and watch the swirling,

the squawking – a crescendo carrying him higher and higher

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. This column is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2014 Marc Swan. It appeared in The Binnacle in 2014 and appears here by permission of the author.

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