Playing too happily
on the slippery mountainside,
my only son fell down and died,
I taught him to speak honestly
and without stalling come across,
but I did not teach him the cowardice
and the hesitation necessary
to live a longer life unhappily.
You see, girl, you ought not to
center your affections so,
little short of idolatry
—a young man is untrustworthy,
in the morning satisfied
he gets up from your bed
and in the evening he is dead.
His mother and I did our best, Lord,
for Matty, and it was pretty good;
and he for twenty years gave us
the chance without our disappointment or remorse.
But now this leaves us nothing
—to blame or regret; only this bawling
and the bright image that
around the grave his friends confabulate.
September 14, 1967