When I die I have no plans to send my friends
into the frigid moisture of a church.
Formulas like that prolong the drip of grief;
you’ll want to turn the faucet off
in your own damned way: guzzle a bottle of wine,
touch an old photo, maybe read a poem I wrote.
We’ve all endured such suffering
and watching that of those we love:
that’s so much worse, that’s so much worse.
Lately it’s been a vigorous rash
spreading across collective skin.
Talking is our Lidocane,
numbing cells one by one;
our knees are raw from constant prayer.
I’ve tried to make my limp appear
too quick to catch your gazing eyes,
but that was my daydream, my spurious mirage.
I’ve tried to live without dragging the world
through chronic pain like a tiny ant
hauls elephantine bugs back to a nest–
though I know I’ve done this more than I
ever brushed my teeth or blew my nose
with two unyielding hands.
Youth just doesn’t download any truth
attached to death, so we gather
like a bridge club without cards,
stare at tables with wobbling legs.
A lightning strike of vanity hits, and we dwell
on wrinkles like potholes that flatten a tire,
not creases in a face that smiled.
I, for one, wonder why I didn’t listen to the honking geese,
ignore impatient drivers pounding their fists
against their horns; I wonder why I didn’t
worship every daffodil, each crocus neck
that sprung from damp March soil.