Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Envy

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What do you yearn for?

Here’s a little poem by Louise Glück that made me think twice…

Lament

Suddenly, after you die, those friends
who never agreed about anything
agree about your character.
they’re like a houseful of singers rehearsing
the same score:
you were just, you were kind, you lived a fortunate life.
No harmony. No counterpoint. Except
they’re not performances;
real tears are shed.

Luckily, you’re dead; otherwise
you’d be overcome with revulsion.
but when that’s passed,
when the guests begin filing out, wiping their eyes
because, after a day like this,
shut in with orthodoxy,
the sun’s amazingly bright,
though it’s late afternoon, September –
when the exodus begins,
that’s when you’d feel
pangs of envy.

Your friends the living embrace one another,
gossip a little on the sidewalk
as the sun sinks, and the evening breeze
ruffles the women’s shawls –
this, this, is the meaning of
“a fortunate life”: it means
to exist in the present.

 

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From the beautiful collection:

 

12 Comments

  1. Wow. This one really grabs you. Thank you for sharing. The photos are a perfect counterbalance.

  2. A very moving and thought provoking piece.

  3. This morning I woke up to a message from a childhood friend that her mother had died. A group of us texted back-and-forth memories and condolences. Then I read this observant poem. The older I get, the more I’m struck by this dance between living and dying.

  4. So powerful! Such a struggle to live in the present.

  5. My first thought was the exact same as Lawrence’s. Wow. Makes you think, doesn’t it….

  6. So beautiful. Especially poignant after having experienced a funeral this week that took me back into another place, another time.

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