The Back Pew


The worn back pew has emptied fast,
the one where you and your friends always sat.
You’re the last to go. You’ve made your peace
with losing your place. You know you’re due.
Your bones are brittle, your heart is tired,
your nose has grown long as a liar’s, your ears
are big and deaf as lettuce leaves. Years ago
you struck a deal with death: till your turn
came, you’d do your best to love the rest
and keep them safe. But now death’s gone
and taken your son before you. It gets you
thinking it’s true, that thing nobody wants
to say: that every blessed soul under heaven
spends every day on the same hard bench.


Play Notes: My immediate inspiration for this poem was a message received from an elder friend who had just suffered the death of his son. But lingering in the background are all who experience loss. Nobody is immune. We're all mortal, and to pretend that we're not does nobody any favors. Perhaps you could try to write a poem in which you express, or wrestle with, your own sense of mortality.

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