Issue 194, Fall 2010
The sky is desert blue,
Like the pool. Secluded.
No swimmers here. No smog—
Unless you count this twisting
Brush fire in the hills. Two kids
Sit, head-to-head, poolside,
Rehearsing a condolence note.
Someone has died, “Not an intimate,
Perhaps a family friend,” prompts
The Manners Guide they consult.
You shouldn’t say God never makes
Mistakes, she quotes, snapping her
Bikini top. Right, he adds—You
Could just say, He’s better off—or
Heaven was always in his future.
There’s always a better way to say
We’re sorry that he’s dead—but
they’re back inside their music now,
Pages of politeness fallen between them.
O do not say that the Unsaid drifts over us
Like blown smoke: a single spark erupts
In wildfire! Cup your hands, blow out
This wish for insight. Say: Forgive me
For living when you are dead. Say pardon
My need to praise, without you, this bright
Morning sky. It belongs to no one—
But I offer it to you, heaven in your future—