Monday, December 7, 2015

Robert Lee Haycock writes

Death Lives Next Door

Death lives next door
Sometimes she gets my mail
Her children
All those little Deaths
Peer over the fence
Play on my lawn
Ring the doorbell and run away
They never steal flowers from my garden
But when I'm not looking
They sniff at blossoms
With noseless faces
And everything withers


  1. Death is certainly a frequent subject for poets to mull, but usually (naturally enough) it gets a morbid treatment. However, once in a while, someone like Bob gives it a lighter touch without despoiling the inherent gravity of the subject. Another example is Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Childhood Is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies”.

    Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
    The child is grown, and puts away childish things.
    Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

    Nobody that matters, that is. Distant relatives of course
    Die, whom one never has seen or has seen for an hour,
    And they give one candy in a pink-and-green striped bag, or a jack-knife,
    And went away, and cannot really be said to have lived at all.

    And cats die. They lie on the floor and lash their tails,
    And their reticent fur is suddenly all in motion
    With fleas that one never knew were there,
    Polished and brown, knowing all there is to know,
    Trekking off into the living world.
    You fetch a shoe-box, but it’s much too small, because she won’t curl up now:
    So you find a bigger box, and bury her in the yard, and weep.

    But you do not wake up a month from then, two months,
    A year from then, two years, in the middle of the night
    And weep, with your knuckles in your mouth, and say Oh, God!
    Oh, God!
    Childhood Is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,--
    mothers and fathers don’t die.

    And if you have said, “For heaven’s sake, must you always be kissing a person?”
    Or, “I do wish to gracious you’d stop tapping on the window with your thimble!”
    Tomorrow, or even the day after tomorrow if you’re busy having fun,
    Is plenty of time to say, “I’m sorry, mother.”

    To be grown up is to sit at the table with people who have died,
    who neither listen nor speak;
    Who do not drink their tea, though they always said
    Tea was such a comfort.

    Run down into the cellar and bring up the last jar of raspberries; they are not tempted.
    Flatter them, ask them what it was they said exactly
    That time, to the bishop, or to the overseer, or to Mrs. Mason;
    They are not taken in.
    Shout at them, get red in the face, rise,
    Drag them up out of their chairs by their stiff shoulders and shake them and yell at them;
    They are not startled, they are not even embarrassed; they slide back into their chairs.

    Your tea is cold now.
    You drink it standing up,
    And leave the house.


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