. The Last Night That We Met in memoriam CQD, Halifax, February, 2001 We gripped hands awkwardly. I’d grasped your shoulder To say goodbye, and, that cold winter night A month before your death, you asked who, turned, And said my name in such a way that, colder Though winter nights and dark my own world might Grow, I knew then the warmth of friendship earned As only friends can know. There’d been a party. Saying goodbye to one you’d known when he Was just a boy, you smiled with memorable Affection, seemed to volunteer a hearty Embrace, but tapped his shoulders cordially, The courteous gesture unforgettable As frank young Nick politely smiled and spoke With English charm. And then you left the warm, Convivial home for cold, dark night, descending The steep porch stair with frailty that awoke At once the fear that you might come to harm While I, with others intermediate lending What seemed less careful hands than needed, stood Stranded in anxious idleness, as though Watching a frail child reach for rocky heights. But, going warily, you came to good John Baxter’s van, and all were set to go. I made my way to you. The dashboard lights Bright in the biding darkness, the engine warming, You sat strapped in, face-forward, safe, it seemed, And ready for the future. But what seer Of old could hinder time and chance from forming Affliction’s deadly blow, and what fool dreamed Of cheating mortal suffering and fear, Those grim, relentless masters? Yet if grace Redeems all loss, then we for life might hold To love engendered in a gentle face And acts that brace against the final cold. . . Tiree MacGregor began publishing verse with The Epigrammatist in the early 1990s. Since then his poems have occasionally appeared in print and online journals. He taught university English for many years in three Canadian provinces and now works as a freelance editor. Born in Scotland, he lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.