Friday, April 16, 2010

one more scott cairns poem for the road

After the Last Kiss

By now I'm dead. Make what you will of that.
But granted you are alive, you will need
to be making some more as well. Prayers
have been made, for instance but (trust me)

the dead are oblivious to such late sessions.
Settle instead for food, common meals of thick soup.
Invite your friends. Make lively conversation
among steaming bowls, lifting heavy spoons.

If there is bread (there really must be bread),
tear it coarsely and hand each guest his share
for intinction in the soup. Something to say?
Say it now. Let the napkin fall and stay.

Kiss each guest when it comes to time for parting.
They may be embarrassed, caught without wit
or custom. (See them shifting from foot to
foot at the open door?) Could be you will

repeat your farewells a time or two more
than seems fit. But had you not embraced them
at such common departures, your prayers will
fall as dry crumbs, nor will they comfort you.

Cairns, Scott. "After the Last Kiss" philokalia: new & selected poems. Lincoln, Nebraska: Zoo Press, 2002.