Villanelle for a Smile

Villanelle for a Smile

Your sleepy smile was moist and sly
when stupidly I said you?d live for ever.
Why did I claim you?d never die?

You didn?t laugh at me or sigh,
but merely whispered: ?Never utter never.?
Your sleepy smile was moist and sly.

I couldn?t look you in the eye,
or think of something smart or clever.
Why did I claim you?d never die?

Today my tongue is thick and dry,
and utters no sound whatsoever,
though my heart echoes: ?Why, oh why??

Your sleepy smile, still moist and sly,
reminds me of your death forever
and how rash phrases mortify.
Why did I claim you?d never die?

?Villanelle for a Smile?, from Fourteen Reasons for Writing (Hazard Press, 2001), ? Kevin Ireland 2001, used by permission of the author.Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archives (2004).

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