Charles Bernstein’s
”Eulogy for Emma”

A note from Felix Bernstein

The program for Emma Bee Bernstein’s funeral

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  1. It’s absolutely none of my business, but I am deeply touched by Charles Bernstein’s grief. My daughter is named Emma too. She is everything to me, though I usually forget to make that clear. I will hold her tightly today, and I will tell her how precious she is. I promise.

    Please know, Charles, that you are not alone. There is nothing more to say.

  2. Here is a poem for the occasion, written by Theodore Roethke. I hope there is some solace in it.

    Elegy for Jane
    (My student, thrown by a horse)

    I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
    And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
    And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
    And she balanced in the delight of her thought,

    A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
    Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
    The shade sang with her;
    The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
    And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

    Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth,
    Even a father could not find her:
    Scraping her cheek against straw,
    Stirring the clearest water.

    My sparrow, you are not here,
    Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
    The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
    Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

    If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
    My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
    Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
    I, with no rights in this matter,
    Neither father nor lover.

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