All Saints' Day - "After the Fact" by A.R. Ammons

After the Fact


The people of my time are passing away: my
Wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year old who


Died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it’s
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:


It was once weddings that came so thick and
Fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:


Now, it’s this and that and the other and somebody
Else gone or on the brink: well, we never


Thought we would live forever (although we did)
And now it looks like we won’t: some of us


Are losing a leg to diabetes, some don’t know
What they went downstairs for, some know that


A hired watchful person is around, some like
To touch the cane tip into something steady,


So nice: we have already lost so many,
Brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our


Address books for so long a slow scramble now
Are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our


Index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:


At the same time we are getting used to so
Many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip


To the ones left: we are not giving up on the
Congestive heart failures or brain tumors, on


The nice old men left in empty houses or on
The widows who decided to travel a lot: we


Think the sun may shine someday when we’ll
Drink wine together and think of what used to


Be: until we die we will remember every
Single thing, recall every word, love every


Loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
Others to love, love that can grow brighter


And deeper till the very end, gaining strength
And getting more precious all the way….


~  A. R. Ammons ~














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