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At a Breton Pardon

He loved his wife. For more than thirty years
they’d made a life together, farming. Then,
abruptly, unexpectedly, she died.
An aneurysm of the brain at 59.
This was in April 2020, with none but family
permitted to attend the funeral.
The lovely spring and summer stretched ahead.
His grief was green as leaves and early corn.
And then, the village pardon in September.
Two hundred people, masked and greeting one another
by movements of the eyes and touchings of the elbow
(where, all their lives till this, were handshakes and embraces)
gathered for the outdoor mass named in her honour.
Though we were already seated, he, the summoner,
went to the rope which hung within the chapel’s open door
and rang the little single bell, so that its chimes,
obedient to his strong, familiar hand,
united us with him, and her,
too soon perhaps for consolation; not too soon for love.