The Sweet Hereafter


While I was making supper for my mother yesterday afternoon, my thoughts returned to the short poem I had written early that morning ó now a page and what feels like a lifetime ago.

As if I were a ghost, I saw myself standing at the stove and said,

How fitting if his pale life
were to end here,
after such a fine farewell.

Then I took myself by the hand, but the fool would not follow me home.
He peeled an onion instead, and chopped three ripe red tomatoes.

What good is it, I said, if he does not know?
And so I tugged again, this time a little harder.
Resolutely with his free hand, he crushed dry purple basil.
I know not how it happened, but I took a joyous breath.
My spirit ached and my nostrils flared.

May the sweet hereafter be such a pain as this.

September 21, 2006
















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