November 17, 2010

The Poet Undertaker

A lovely piece at The New Old Age at The New York Times, A Poet Well Versed in Grief about Thomas Lynch, the poet undertaker.

Born to a family who ran a funeral home in small-town Michigan, the poet Thomas Lynch began pondering aging and death at a young age, as a child leafing through the gory pages of his father’s mortician texts.

“A lot of 15-year-olds think they’re going to live forever,” he said. “But when I was 15, I sort of knew I wasn’t, because I spent a lot of time at the funeral home.
Here is the title poem from his newly-published collection
I say clean your plate and say your prayers,
go out for a long walk after supper
and listen for the voice that sounds like you
talking to yourself, you know the one:
contrapuntal, measured to footfall, true
to your own metabolism. Listen –
inspiration, expiration, it’s all the same,
the sigh of creation and its ceasing -
whatever’s going to happen’s going to happen

"Walking Papers: Poems" (Thomas Lynch)

I've been posting about Thomas Lynch for years now in The Calling of a Funeral Director

The generation today bringing loved ones to funeral homes is the first generation, he said, that tries to get past grieving by not having a body at a funeral. He believes this carries the risk of spiritual and emotional peril.

and Going the Distance

The good death, good grief, good funerals come from keeping the vigils, from bearing our burdens honorably, from honest witness and remembrance. They come from going the distance with the ones we love.

I quite enjoyed his first book about the 'dismal trade'.

"The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade" (Thomas Lynch)

Posted by Jill Fallon at November 17, 2010 6:36 PM | Permalink