Erasure We think we’ll endlessly recall the tragedy that happened here, and when it struck—the day, the year— will always shatter and appall. Yet even now, young brides-to-be choose this to be their wedding day, tossing a ribbon-bound bouquet not far from the catastrophe. Young children, eyes unclouded, sense no taint of menace in the place. They have no horrors to efface; no shiver makes their present tense. Time sweeps away the dust and flowers to tidy up and carry on, until we can't recall what's gone or even that the dust is ours.
Better Stars I met a man who told me Munch was just third-rate, as painters go. It stunned me that he seemed to know how to appraise, extol, or junk singular talents. From the height of his achievement, he surveyed their output and assigned a grade. I felt diminished in his sight. When he walked out at night, did he assess the stars? Were some not bright enough? Would he prefer to see a sky where just the brightest shone, pillowed on velvet, each alone, instead of multitudes of light?
Susan McLean, a retired professor of English from Southwest Minnesota State University, is the author of The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife. She is also the translator of Martial’s Selected Epigrams. She lives in Iowa City.