It was like this:
you were happy, then you were sad,
then happy again, then not.
It went on.
You were innocent or you were guilty.
Actions were taken, or not.
At times you spoke, at other times you were silent.
Mostly, it seems you were silent—what could you say?
Now it is almost over.
Like a lover, your life bends down and kisses your life.
It does this not in forgiveness—
between you, there is nothing to forgive—
but with the simple nod of a baker at the moment
he sees the bread is finished with transformation.
Eating, too, is a thing now only for others.
It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
or your days: they will be wrong,
they will miss the wrong woman, miss the wrong man,
all the stories they tell will be tales of their own invention.
Your story was this: you were happy, then you were sad,
you slept, you awakened.
Sometimes you ate roasted chestnuts, sometimes persimmons.
Originally published in After (HarperCollins, 2006); all rights reserved. Copyright © by Jane Hirshfield. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
When the time comes for you
to board death’s shifty raft
of mirror shards and plastic coffee cups,
I hope you’re ready.
I hope you’ve made peace
with everyone you’ve ever done wrong
and you feel no more use for pencils
and your robe is warm and dry
and nothing obstructs
your view of the void.
When the moment arrives
I hope you pass through the membrane
that separates this world
from the next whatever
snowstorm wishbone yadda yadda
with very little pain. And a modicum of pride.
That’s all I have to say for now.
That’s all I ever have to say.
Copyright © 2016 by Ben Mirov. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 20, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.