This Is Not An Elegy 

For poet Mick Burrs, aka Stephen Michael Berzensky (1940-2021) 

—Bruce Rice 


Your body it seemed to me was always hungry, always leaning like it was 

about to speak, but what did I know back then: there’s a kind of language 

a person can’t utter unless it’s lived—this task of breath and setting down, 

and still—the whole world’s mystery. And somewhere among things falling 

you gently let yourself down from a propped branch of the family tree, 

a young man leaving those iridescent bungalows and blue pools 

and someone else’s idea of how it’s supposed to be. If I knew you then 

it’s because a voice carries everything we are: your voice, my name 

and how it sounded when you said it, and the thing you were telling 

had a song in it and a grief and that relentless holy thing 

poets can’t attain. I cannot think of you without certain sadness 

for all those early versions of yourself folded and stitched in neatly 

cropped books of whatever keeps a person alive: for the price of a story 

it’s still you proudly adhering to the life you chose. This warm night 

I don’t intend an elegy. I feel the light of the hour pass through me. 

Yourself, as you predicted: closer now in this small quiet 

so we may speak to each other with perfect clarity.