A Luxury of Knowledge

January 31, 2013

How intriguing. Aunt Gracie’s final words,
her epitaph against the sky, has revealed
an audience for poetry, strangers,
come from the funeral, awaiting tea.

Her parlor looks like an empty parking lot
after a summer’s baseball game.
The kids have all gone home, of course,
half winners, half losers. Outside

the beast moans as if he finds
our tableaux-vivant insipid.
The beast moans again. It’s his tea,
after all, so we sip it.

Equidistant from his desire
and from our eyes, is this sentence:
If poetry is the luxury of knowledge,
pity the poor sky…

So be it, Aunt Grace, tea and poetry.
One hundred and seven years on the planet,
and now you’re dead, so much like
a final poem left in an empty valise.

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3 Responses to “A Luxury of Knowledge”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    Thank you Anna and John. As, in some ways, the purpose of this poem was to introduce my Aunt Gracie, I think it will write about her only in the poems for the time being. I do wonder about the beast, though. Was that a moan…or a groan…at the rhyming of ‘insipid’ and ‘we sip it’? Even beasts can be pushed too far, you know.

  2. John Stevens Says:

    I’ve read this on several occasions since you posted it, Jim, and have been pondering over it. There are some lovely lines and phrases in here and, as Anna says above, it is very moving – to give a purely emotional response as she says.
    I suppose that Aunt Gracie was a real person (although this doesn’t have to be so) who lived to a great age, who was inspiring and whose own words take on such power in the memory. The poem is a generous tribute.
    That last line is especially vivid and moving, by the way. I like Anna’s comment on that image of the valise.

  3. Anna Mark Says:

    Hmmn…I find this poem very moving. First there’s Aunt Gracie’s epitaph against the sky. What an image. Then, the stillness of the parlor, the children gone home, perhaps happy to go but also touched by death (I come back to this still parlor again at the end of the poem). Then there’s the beast who shows up. He finds the scene tasteless as the players do his tea, but they sip it, endure it, as they do this life, perhaps. But, I think I am most struck by the end image of Aunt Grace’s death like a final poem (such a faint image, but also eternal) left in an empty valise. The valise — all that we make, all that we build, the journey of life. This image at the end is so final. Her life is the poem left in an empty space…and the beast moans. Beautiful poem. I loved this one! (My typical purely emotional responses ; )


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