"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

December 6, 2011

At the front of the line

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 11:54 am

My godmother has died, my uncle’s wife, at the age of 96, the last member of their generation, my parents’ generation. We–brothers and sisters and cousins–are now next in line. In fact, one sister and two brothers-in-law, as well as several cousins, are already gone, as well as a lovely niece, from the next generation. Linda Pastan has two poems that convey some sense of what we are feeling. The second of them, The Last Uncle, provides the title of a collection of her poems that has much on relations among generations.

For a Parent
By Linda Pastan

Move to the front
of the line
a voice says, and suddenly
there is nobody
left standing between you
and the world, to take
the first blows
on their shoulders.

This is the place in books

where part one ends, and
part two begins,
and there is no part three.
The slate is wiped
not clean but like a canvas
painted over in white
so that a whole new landscape
must be started, bits of the old
still showing underneath—
those colors sadness lends
to a certain hour of evening.
Now the line of light
at the horizon
is the hinge between earth
and heaven, only visible
a few moments
as the sun drops
its rusted padlock
into place.

The Last Uncle
By Linda Pastan

The last uncle is pushing off
in his funeral skiff (the usual
black limo) having locked
the doors behind him
on a whole generation.

And look, we are the elders now
with our torn scraps
of history, alone
on the mapless shore
of this raw, new century.

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