“He’d seemed much better lately,” your friends said.
Well, sure. After I knew I’d kill myself
my world became a one-man inside joke—
my clueless shrink, my restless bed,
the loyal snapshots on my shelf
made coy by my prospective masterstroke.

No note, no will, no ritual I wanted done—
if nothing matters, matter’s nothing, obviously.
Forgive the knowing friend, the frightened enemy
and newsy neighbors saying “That house—he’s the one.”
Strew ashes, sell the house, give the police my gun.

There’s a bequest I can’t avoid: an aftermath
that’s like a summer house superimposed
on firefly memory in fall when it’s been closed—
the stale hydrangeas wanton by the boathouse path,
nostalgia shown for what it is, a kind of wrath.

Still, not for hate of life or death of love,
but lifelong love of death I planned to die;
not for a prideful star gone out above,
but the whole dark or light (whatever)sky.
Please tell my angry children that I waved,
not drowned—I swam until I wasn’t saved.

This Issue

February 10, 2000