Issue 68, Winter 1976
But you probably knew that.
We miss you.
We miss the 890 worth of chemicals
of which (with inflation) you are said to have consisted
(although we have also been given to understand
that as your body decomposes
these at least will be returned to us).
We miss the 90% of you
that was water
and that in better times
was all contained rather neatly within what for want of a
better term we shall have to call your “form”
but which has now been allowed
to I don’t know “evaporate” I guess
until all that remains
is just so much steam
hissing away into some forgotten corner
of the universe.
“There goes Maria
hissing off into space,’’
we almost feel like saying
each time an otherwise innocent event
(the lighting of a fly
on the rump of an actually now that I think about it
forces us to remember you.
Yes, we miss you,
but not enough to make us
want to dig up your body to see what you look like.
We know what you look like, Maria.
Yes, I’m sorry to have to say it, but you are.
You’re just bones now, Maria,
and it’s lucky at least that you’re buried
because if you weren’t buried,
you’d be hanging in some doctor’s office
and scaring poor little kids
half out of their wits
each time they had to visit the doctor
only to find you hanging there
in all your terrifying whiteness.
Thank your lucky stars
there was enough money
to buy you a decent grave
in which to rest your weary bones, Maria,
and that you’re not required
to spend the rest of your days
playing spook to a succession of poor little children.
Maria, is it cold where you are?
Jeremy says it must be.
In fact, yesterday, as a test,
he went over to the neighbors’
to where some workmen
are digging a hole
for an I don’t know septic tank or something
and climbed in
and then later came back home
and said the hole was downright chilly.
I’m sorry about that, Maria.
I wish there were something we could do about it,
but there isn’t.
Of course, I guess we could have buried you in a tree,
but then, as you know,
there aren’t many trees around here,
and, besides, the birds would have come
and pecked your eyes out,
and I know you wouldn’t have liked that
as you were always very proud of your eyes,
although I personally could never figure out why,
since, to me, there was never anything terribly unusual
As far as I could tell, they were just eyes.
But then I guess every person has to have something to be
even a person who
(if I may speak plainly, Maria)
has never ceased to remind me
of the way a horse looks
as it’s being led away
to I don’t know
“greener pastures” or something.
Oh, I know all about how you could cross your eyes at will
and then make them straighten out again
and that you always thought this was just about the most
ever performed by mortal being,
but the truth is, Maria,
we only pretended
to be amused.
Actually we found your trick a little disgusting
and would have asked you to please stop
except that we knew how proud you were of it.
And, well, God knows we didn’t want to take away the
you had for being proud.
Well, that’s about all
I can think of to say,
Maria, and so just remember
we do miss you,
if not exactly constantly,
then at least each time a fly
lights on the rump
of a not-very-attractive horse
and makes us think:
“Well, there goes Maria
trotting off into I don’t know space.’’