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I hope you will forgive me this shift in person and mode. I find that at the moment I have no other voice.

My stepfather, Joseph Benjamin Wood, died in his sleep early Wednesday morning. He was the first person to submit his Master’s thesis in poetry at Eastern Kentucky University. Joe gave up such writing before he met my mother, but he never ceased to love words in economy: he chose them, as he chose all things, carefully and well.

I have been reading his books, his Thoreau and his Whitman, to find the words with which to say goodbye.