February 14, 2010

After the Last Words

by Scott Cairns

By now I'm dead. Make what you will of that.
But granted you are alive, you will need
to be making something more as well. Prayers
have been made, for instance, but (trust me)

the dead are oblivious to such sessions.
Settle instead for food, nice meals (thick soup):
invite your friends. Make lively conversation
among steaming bowls, lifting heavy spoons.

If there is bread (there really should be bread),
tear it coarsely and hand each guest his share
for intinction in the soup. Something to say?
Say it now. Let the napkins fall and stay.

Kiss each guest when time comes for leaving.
They may be embarrassed, caught without wit
or custom. (See them shifting from foot to
foot at the open door?) Could be you will

repeat your farewells a time or two more
than seems fit. But had you not embraced them
at such common departures prayers will
fall as dry crumbs, nor will they comfort you.

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