Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Resonates well with our discussion of elegies

Condolence Note: Los Angeles
The sky is desert blue,
Like the pool. Secluded.
No swimmers here. No smog—

Unless you count this twisting
Brush fire in the hills. Two kids
Sit, head-to-head, poolside,

Rehearsing a condolence note.
Someone has died, "Not an intimate,
Perhaps a family friend," prompts

The Manners Guide they consult.
You shouldn't say God never makes
Mistakes, she quotes, snapping her

Bikini top. Right, he adds—You
Could just say, He's better off—or
Heaven was always in his future.

There's always a better way to say
We're sorry that he's dead—but
they're back inside their music now,

Pages of politeness fallen between them.
O do not say that the Unsaid drifts over us
Like blown smoke: a single spark erupts

In wildfire! Cup your hands, blow out
This wish for insight. Say: Forgive me
For living when you are dead. Say pardon

My need to praise, without you, this bright
Morning sky. It belongs to no one—
But I offer it to you, heaven in your future—

Along with silent tunes from the playlist,
The end-time etiquette book dropped
From the hand of the young sleeper.

It's all we have left to share. The book
Of paid respects, the morning's hot-blue
iPod, sunlit words on a page, black border.

Carol Muske-Dukes

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