The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Death

"A man, when he burns, leaves only a handful of ashes. No woman can hold him. The wind must blow him away."

~~ Tennessee Williams (1951)

"Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily."

~~ La Rochefoucauld (1665)

"Communion with the Deceased"

(for Miles)

Tell me something. What good could have come
from this? Iím prone in a wildflower
field in Eagle, Colorado. I have bourbon
in my glass and I donít drink. I feel queasy.

There is a gathering of people behind me
under a rented canopy, the white ones used for weddings
and times like these. All of them knew you better
than they know me. They carry canapťs in their hands,

stories of your exploits on their lips, undigested grief
in that tender spot below the breastbone. Iím clawing
at the knapweed and they pretend thereís nothing
wrong with that because theyíve already decided

Iím deranged. What could I have told her about her
late father that she wouldnít have already known?
That a blackball in the bloodstream is as inheritable
as your fear of water, your love of Escher, your proclivity

for laughter? That we ignored the risks of genetic disease,
birthed her anyway? What good would have come
of her being? Better to know we loved her well
enough to leave well enough alone. It is mid June.

The lupine are late to bloom this high in the hills
and there is no child who requires an explanation
of love and death. Nor to lose to them either. No stranger
at a wake need lead her away from a mother who lays

in the dirt. All this is easier without her
than with her. It is, isnít it? Speak to me.

© 2002 MJM

Second Place, June 2002 / Poem of the Year 2002 in the IBPC
Featured in the September 2002 edition of The Writer's Hood


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