Meditation on “In Memoriam”

Brett Foster Click to

TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press published Brett Foster’s first collection, The Garbage Eater, in 2011. His work has recently appeared in Crab Orachard Review, Pleiades, and Ascent. He teaches creative writing and Renaissance Literature at Wheaton College, in Illinois.

Not “is survived by,” that gravely passive voice
to deactivate the dead, but “He leaves his wife
of fifty years, Constance,” as if the journey
were his to determine, and compared with this life
the more important thing. There is no choice,
but there may be a setting forth, a way with key
in hand to unlock some admittedly unknown
door or portal. In other words, maybe he’s busy,
careless of the cherished days left behind (below?)
and in such a departure neither bed-ridden nor dizzy
nor undignified, he leaves a little of his leaving
so that it’s hers, too, making the event hardly
more than errand, if indeed his faculties were sturdy:
“leaves,” she almost believes, will carry off her grieving.


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