Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I’m seated at Gautreau’s, uptown, with Laine,
fine student, now good friend. Obliged to book
an early hour—few choices in this bane,
the Covid sequel—we take time to look

at wine lists, menus, chatting; appetite’s
aroused thereby, and memories. How well
she wrote, with industry and her own lights
enlisted to identify the spell

that poetry can cast from mishap. She,
discrete with men, and proud, yet fell for one
who would not marry her. But destiny
has its own means, and will not be undone.

She went to Colorado for the birth,
then gave the child to others. What reward
for all!—their happiness, her proven worth,
his manhood now. We talk it over, shored

together like a seawall, facing force
with force, and mercy for the wounded heart.
The wine arrives, and then a starter course.
We sound out memory, these years apart.

A toast to you, Laine—to your steadfast ways,
which let you love an imago unseen—
as those whose past is lost endure, to praise
dim figures wrapped in darkness, strong, serene.

—Catharine Savage Brosman