I didn't know this poem existed until this morning. It was left in the comments of the blog Electrolite thirteen years ago by the late author John M. Ford.
The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days --
Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke.
The universe winds down. That's how it's made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you'll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.
Well, hell. I'd heard that name before, and seen authors I respect sing his praises, but I'd never actually read anything by him. After his death, his work fell out of print. Now, however, the SF publisher Tor will reissue his stories and novels (except for his two Star Trek tie-in books) as a result of a bit of literary detective work, as chronicled here.
Also, read this: the first of a compendium of comments left on the blog Making Light.
I am in awe. And you can bet I will be watching to build a collection of his reissued work.