Legacy

This entry is part 45 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12

What had he saved, at the close
of his life, that he might have left
as a bequest? We found out only

after his death: despite his long
career in law, how scrupulous, how
fraught with superstition the lengths

he went to avoid the writing of a will,
or such grave considerations of the end:
a bank account his widow had no real

knowledge of, with one last retirement
deposit; the neat and mostly unused
stack of blank checks (he favored cash)

tucked in a corner of the sock drawer.
Somehow I can’t remember more
than the questions that now come

out of that time. They crowd upon
the present, which today seems
cloudless and untrammelled, clear

blue shot through with loose coins
of sunshine though winter’s breath
suspends its shadow from every branch.

If you can’t take it with you, what is
this lifetime of working and making do,
of putting others’ needs before your own;

and nights of sleepless worry, counting
the days from one paycheck to the next?
The clock in the hallway whirrs

and hidden levers scroll the hands
across its ivory face. Its music
is also a counting-out, a measuring

of the remaining distances between
the ache of all that wants so much
to be fulfilled, to be disbursed.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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3 Comments


  1. this is so close and too real for me.

    Reply

  2. Sometimes the remaining distances seem awfully small.

    Wonderful wonderful poem, Luisa!

    Reply

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