Salamander 2024 Fiction Contest

SUBMIT: May 1 through June 2, 2024 | READING FEE: $15


Intensest Rendezvous, On Encountering a Friend with Little Time

Chard deNiord
| poetry

for Mark Green


This is therefore the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing.

--Wallace Stevens


I would be a fool, I thought, in any effort

to greet him at the end of dinner, no matter

what I said or did. But why, why pretend

I didn't see him, then disappear as if

I hadn't been there? "No," I answered

the stare of my clean white plate.

"The darkness cannot have it, not now or ever."

So I walked to his chair and whispered

in his ear: "Hello, friend, courage teacher."

A greeting that changed to prayer, and then

an order inside the air when he responded

with a smile and strong embrace. No more.


"Noli timere," Seamus texted his wife

before he died in his Dublin bed.

"As should we in life!" I yawped on the heath

between my ears. "Keep the silence,"

the silence cried, so I mouthed the words.


"Do not fear," as if this courage were mine

to mouth and we were keeping our love

a secret from the darkness by saying goodbye

with our eyes and lips. By stabbing the air as well

with our thumbs upraised as we turned away.


Chard deNiord is the Vermont Poet Laureate and author of five books of poetry, most recently Interstate (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), The Double Truth (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) and Night Mowing. (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005). He lives in Putney, Vermont.

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