Long Week Talking

I am ashamed to keep thinking of death
as a chute that connects to the garbage. I know
I should picture it more like the pneumatic tubes

at banks of the past: you put in your name
and your paper and up you go. I know a bank

should be the operative metaphor
for every facet of existence, every time. I’m sorry

I haven’t more regularly made reference
to a bank. When I fail to liken something to a bank,
that’s how I can tell I’m tired. That’s not me,

I assure everybody. That’s the long week talking. Time
for bed. Time for the window, the hectoring sky,

the streetlight bright as the bright saved people
see before they die, but I don’t die.


Copyright © 2023 by Natalie Shapero. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 4, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“There was a sense in which I didn’t want to write another poem about death, but there was also a sense in which I did want to do this, and so I settled on a first line that, taken on its own, serves as a kind of apology, or at least an introductory, undermining gesture. Read together with the lines that follow, though, it just goes ahead and does the thing it says it’s ashamed of doing. I guess I like to have it both ways.”
—Natalie Shapero