My Periodic Table

In Memoriam for Oliver Sacks, 1933-2015

My Periodic Table

(for Oliver Sacks, Physician, Neurologist, Psychologist)

In my final days

What is surely my final breath

I return to memory of sky

Powdered with stars

A world where there is no life

but also no death

I again surround myself

With metals and minerals

Little emblems of Eternity

Look    here in its lead casket

Is element Ninety

Crystalline Thorium

Sparkling like memory

Memory of sky

Powdered with stars

Gathering near

gathering far

And there    Bismuth    element Eighty-three

from a mine in Bolivia

Slowly cooled from a melt

Iridescent crystals

Terraced like a Hopi village

Under memory of sky

Powdered with stars

Emblems of Eternity

Bismuth    element    Eighty-three

I hope to see

But will not…

O Bismuth    modest gray

Unregarded, ignored

Even by lovers of metal

What I wouldn’t give to see

Another day

of gray

Under memory

of sky…

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