Story and poem

From that same issue of Poetry East I mentioned earlier, I came across a poem by Thomas Lynch, another poet new to me.  His day job is listed variously as funeral director or undertaker, a thought-provoking trade for a poet. I imagine it keeps him grounded. In this issue of the magazine, each poet writes a note about the poem. Lynch has a section about how he composes when he has writers’ block and concludes with this:

“Truth told, this multi-media approach results in remarkable disappointments–poems of such abundant mediocrity that I burn them or affix to them the names of poets I dislike and post them to The New Yorker.  At least one…has been published, the generous check and the week-long fame assigned to the account of a fellow I meant to damage  He later made it the title poem for his sixth collection, claiming in the the eventual interview that it had come to him in a dream.”

This little fantasy pleases me immeasurably. I might have to try it myself. And here is the decidedly un-mediocre poem that went with it.

  Note On The Rapture To His True Love

A blue bowl on the table in the dining room
fills with sunlight. From a sunlit room
I watch my neighbor’s sugar maple turn
to shades of gold. It’s late September. Soon…
Soon as I’m able I intend to turn
to gold myself. Somewhere I’ve read that soon
they’ll have a formula for prime numbers
and once they do, the world’s supposed to end
the way my neighbor always said it would–
in fire. I’ll bet we’ll all be given numbers
divisible by One and by themselves
and told to stand in line the way you would
for prime cuts at the butcher’s. In the end,
maybe it’s every man for himself.
Maybe it’s someone hollering All Hands on
Deck! Abandon Ship! Women and Children First!
Anyway, I’d like to get my hands on
you. I’d like to kiss your eyelids and make love
as if it were our last time, or the first,
or else the one and only form of love
divisible by which I yet remain myself.
Mary, folks are disappearing one by one.
They turn to gold and vanish like the leaves
of sugar maples. But we can save ourselves.
We’ll pick our own salvations, one by one,
from a blue bowl full of sunlight until none is left.

2 thoughts on “Story and poem

  1. You might also enjoy Thomas Lynch’s book, The Undertaking. This was a nice poem, thanks for sharing. Those funeral directors are a very romantic bunch!

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