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Gordon Shrubb

Place

 

Marooned in fever, Étienne de La Boétie enjoins his friend.

— What’s my place?

Montaigne attempts the remedy of reason.

— Your body of breath and thought.

— No, I need a place. This breath is brief and leaving.

 

Montaigne identifies his farm, his family, his church.

Still, La Boétie repeats.

 — Please do not refuse me a place.

Montaigne feels philosophy in the refrain

but cannot conjure a complicity.

 

Months after La Boétie’s death, musing on silence

Montaigne hears his meaning.

Our place in another’s life

held onwardly with tender resolutions

through the discord of recall.

 

The aftermath of the death of an intimate friend

is like the dissolution of music

or a chasm from the sinking of an island.

Montaigne redeeming melancholy ways

places La Boétie confrère to his Essays.

 

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