by Corinne H. Smith

When the one who is gone 
Lies before the first pew,
Our tears come.
Not for him, who has passed from our lives.
(We are mistaken to believe this is the reason.)
But instead, for ourselves:
For the new empty spaces,
For the lost conversations,
For the missed chances,
For the unsaid goodbyes.

His work is done.
Action and time
Have tied his loose ends.
He needs no tears.
It is we who remain – 
We who must change – 
We, who need them.

When others approach with wet faces,
Fumbling for suitable condolences,
Our tears come again.
Not for him, who has passed from our lives;
Not for ourselves, the empty spaces and missed chances;
But instead, for these others in front of us
Who are new to the loss,
And who have suddenly seen its reality
And have joined our club of sorrows.
And we hug them, hoping to pass on the silent scepter of acceptance,
Which we found ourselves only a few days earlier,
And which we alone have the power to bestow.

And when the cards come in the mail
With pastel flowers and swirling fonts,
And the senders say “Thinking of You,”
This is only partly true.
They think of him, who has passed from our lives.
They think of themselves, the empty spaces and missed chances.
They think of us, as a third choice,
Knowing that social graces require sympathetic cards.
And since they cannot reach out to him, 
They instead reach out to us,
The next best people.
For when we next meet
Next week, next month, next year,
It will be with wet faces.
And we will cry for each other
And for the marvel of Life going on.

© 2015  Corinne H. Smith

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