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Thread: Four Little Words (a prose poem)

  1. #1
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    Four Little Words (a prose poem)

    The day my grandpa died
    the sun did not refuse to shine,
    the moon did not become as blood,
    the earth did not quake,
    graves did not open
    and the dead walk out.

    The day my grandpa passed away
    was like any other September day
    in east Tennessee: summer and autumn
    mingling as one, green and red merging into dun,
    lazy flies buzzing around sluggish dogs sprawled
    on scorched paths, sandpaper tongues lolling out
    trying in vain to gain moisture from the parched air.

    The day my grandpa died nothing moved. It was too hot to move.
    The moonsoon season of east Tennessee had ended three months past.
    Three months of dry heat had baked the land
    to a hardened clay (it was a potter's dream come true),
    and my grandpa's relatives, baked along with the ground,
    were in no mood to rend their clothes and to scatter ashes
    at the news of his demise. They took it, as they had been raised
    to take death, with stoical acceptance, appearing indifferent,
    as indeed many of them were, even though he was the patriarch
    of our clan, ninety-three years old with more than twenty-five
    grandchildren and a half-dozen great-grandchildren.

    Everything had been prepared for months and everyone was composed,
    including the preacher who delivered a standardized sermon,
    immaculate--down to the last semicolon. All was prepared,
    and all were relieved in one way or another at his passing away
    (he had lived "overlong" and he had lingered in the hospital
    for an "unseemly" length of time).

    Many of my realtives at the hospital, at the wake, at the gravesite
    where he was buried beside his one wife of seventy years,
    enjoyed themselves. There were so many gathered together
    who had not been seen in years. It was an opportunity
    to observe what each was wearing, how each had aged,
    to say hello to ones vaguely known, to chat
    about the weather and the cost of gasoline, to be seen.

    Yes, the day my grandpa died was like any other September day
    in east Tennessee: nothing happening, nothing moving, nothing changing.
    And yet, I can't get his last words out of my mind. They crop up
    at the most unlikely times.

    There in the hospital, surrounded by strangers--doctors and nurses
    and sullen relatives, my grandpa, racked with pain, vomiting green slime
    every few minutes, knowing he was soon going to die,
    and the honey-tongued preacher moving up to his face
    and asking sugar-sweetly if he was ready to confess, my grandpa,
    with four words, hushed all the buzzing of that gathered swarm. Four words,
    unlike the preacher's hour-long rehearsed speech at the funeral;
    four words: "I'm ready to go."

    Four words that said it all, all that has ever been thought and felt and done
    in the presence of death. Four little words my grandpa said,
    on that September day in east Tennessee when nothing happened,
    when nothing moved or changed.
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

  2. #2
    It wasn't me Jerrybaldy's Avatar
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    It took prose poetry to a whole new level as its practically a novel, but the four words are the ones I feel I will never be able to say and your verse made me think of that and every poor bugger who may be on the verge of saying it while I write.
    Jerry
    Last edited by Jerrybaldy; 09-18-2010 at 07:47 PM.

    For those who believe,
    no explanation is necessary.
    For those who do not,
    none will suffice.

  3. #3
    Something's gotta give PrinceMyshkin's Avatar
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    It's a fine memorial, although in stanzas 4 & 5 you get a bit too chatty and lose the elegiac tone of the rest of it.

  4. #4
    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    Quite an homage indeed. All in all an enjoyable read.

    tailor STATELY leaves thread humming hymn #300
    tailor

    who am I but a stitch in time
    what if I were to bare my soul
    would you see me origami

    7-8-2015

  5. #5
    dafydd dafydd manton's Avatar
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    A very moving piece - regret and sadness mingled with a deep respect for the man. Thanks! Wasn't sure how I'd relate to this format, but you've surprised me, pleasantly.
    Dafydd Manton, A Legend In His Own Lunchtime!! www.dafydd-manton.co.uk

    My Work Has Been Spread Over Many Fields!

  6. #6
    Registered User Jassy Melson's Avatar
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    Thank you for reading this and for your comments
    Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist.

    Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. - Albert Einstein

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