Saturday, February 25, 2012
(Rainy Day in Brussels by Léonard Misonne,
1870-1943, Belgian photographer)
Thomas Lynch (born in 1948), the poet who wrote the sonnet below, is also a funeral director in Michigan.
To him, the work of a poet and of a mortician are “the same enterprise.”
“But here’s the quiet little truth of the matter,” Lynch wrote in a collection of essays, Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality. “Requiems and prosodies, sonnets and obsequies, poems and funerals — they are all the same. The arrangement of flowers and homages, casseroles and sympathies; the arrangement of images and idioms, words on a page — it is all the same — an effort at meaning and metaphor, an exercise in symbol and ritualized speech, the heightened acoustics of language raised against what is reckoned unspeakable — faith and heartbreak, desire and pain, love and grief, the joyous and sorrowful mysteries by which we keep track of our lives and times.”
REFUSING AT FIFTY-TWO TO WRITE SONNETS
It came to him that he could nearly count
How many late Aprils he had left to him
In increments of ten or, say, eleven
Thus: sixty-three, seventy-four, eighty-five.
He couldn’t see himself at ninety-six —
Humanity’s advances notwithstanding
In health-care, self-help, or new-age regimens —
What with his habits and family history,
The end he thought is nearer than you think.
The future, thereby bound to its contingencies,
The present moment opens like a gift:
The greening month, the golden week, the blue morning,
The hour’s routine, the minute’s passing glance —
All seem like godsends now. And what to make of this?
At the end the word that comes to him is Thanks.