FAMOUS LAST WORDS
The dying make no bones about it. It’s life
they want to talk about–business as usual:
news and weather, sports, the sound of rain
striking the windowpane, the most recent hole in one,
stock prices, interest rates, errands to run.
The dying talk of elephants, veal pies, rising fog,
tiresome wallpaper, shore birds at low tide. Chekhov
spoke fondly of champagne, Bogart of Scotch,
Dylan Thomas totted up his whiskeys, satisfied.
They often speak of the dark or ask for the light
to be left on or off. They may cry out,
“I’m still alive!” or more soberly reflect
on things they should have done or said,
bills still unpaid, books left unread.
My father, a joker even at the end,
said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” It’s kept
the thought of him alive, it’s true. Hope springs
eternal, just like fear, each time the phone rings.
—from Rattle #27, Summer 2007
Antonia Clark: “I’m a medical writer at a medical software company in Burlington, Vermont. The love of language, story, and verse is a gift from my father, a factory worker who recited Latin poetry at home, taught me that words matter, and never stopped believing that I’d be a writer.” (webpage)