“After My Friend Phyllis Shows Me the New York Times Obituary Headline” by Rosemerry Trommer

Rosemerry Trommer

AFTER MY FRIEND PHYLLIS SHOWS ME THE NEW YORK TIMES OBITUARY HEADLINE: ‘LOU MICHAELS, ALL-PURPOSE PLAYER, DIES AT 80, MISSED KICKS IN ’69 SUPER BOWL’

When I die, let them write about
all the mistakes I’ve made.
Let them mention in the headlines
how many rejection letters
I’ve received from The Sun.
Let them say, “Missed her calling
for Broadway back in 1987.”
Let them say, “She trained hard, but
never won a Nordic skate race.”
They can note how my children
fought in front of company.
How every chocolate cake
I made sank in the center. How the beets
in my garden were never bigger
than golf balls. How I never even watched
the Super Bowl, much less
knew who played for the Colts
back in 1969 while I was still
forming in my mother’s womb
and Lou Michaels missed two
field goals that helped the Jets win.
What do any of us really accomplish?
My friend Wayne says,
“We do what we can
and have mercy.” Yes, let
them say I did what I could.
Let them say that I loved
the best I knew how and messed
that up, too. It’s what we do,
we who are kicking our way
to the back pages of the paper.
Well-intentioned and foundering,
faithful and confused as we are,
we mess up. Yes, mercy on us,
mercy on all our failing little hearts,
how they beat so sincerely, mercy
on this longing to shine, this
reminder again to kneel.

Note: The quote is from Wayne Muller’s A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough (Harmony, 2010).

Poets Respond
January 26, 2016

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Rosemerry Trommer: “When my friend Phyllis Klein told me about this obituary, I immediately thought of my own failures. Though my first thought was, ‘Hey, I hope they don’t talk about me like that,’ it wasn’t long before I thought, ‘Hey, maybe they’re on to something here.'” (website)