CONDOLENCES

      (Tennyson after the death of Thackeray)



The tall man in the Spanish cloak is standing

outside the window, silent, without a word,

and the snow is falling upon his broad-brimmed hat.


Inside, the daughters sit in the darkening parlor,

absorbed in their griefs, watching the tall man's hat

fill up with snow, and mourning their father's death.


Snow covers the tall man's boots, white-crests his shoulders,

entangles his shaggy beard, until he seems

some snowman they made as children, still standing there.


In the room, the snow falls on the women's hair.

Unmarried still, they are mourning the loss of love,

while the flakes drift down, filling the empty house.


The tall man will not come in.  A man of words,

he will not speak--but only stand there, silent,

letting the snowflakes cover him up with white.


And the women inside will not stir from their chairs,

but only watch the snow, falling in and out,

till all is hid, till everything is said.



 Copyright 2010-2012 Paul Petrie