Lines on Retirement, after Reading Lear
for Richard Pacholski Avoid storms. And retirement parties. You can’t trust the sweetnesses your friends will offer, when they really want your office, which they’ll redecorate. Beware the still untested pension plan. Keep your keys. Ask for more troops than you think you’ll need. Listen more to fools and less to colleagues. Love your youngest child the most, regardless. Back to storms: dress warm, take a friend, don’t eat the grass, don’t stand near tall trees, and keep the yelling down—the winds won’t listen, and no one will see you in the dark. It’s too hard to hear you over all the thunder. But you’re not Lear, except that we can’t stop you from what you’ve planned to do. In the end, no one leaves the stage in character—we never see the feather, the mirror held to our lips. So don’t wait for skies to crack with sun. Feel the storm’s sweet sting invade you to the skin, the strange, sore comforts of the wind. Embrace your children’s ragged praise and that of friends. Go ahead, take it off, take it all off. Run naked into tempests. Weave flowers into your hair. Bellow at cataracts. If you dare, scream at the gods. Babble as if you thought words could save. Drink rain like cold beer. So much better than making theories. We’d all come with you, laughing, if we could.
Reprinted from In a Fine Frenzy, published by the University of Iowa Press, 2005.
Date Published: 2005-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/lines-retirement-after-reading-lear