No one here has ever seen the desert
or the meadows of the afterlife.
I still love weddings (I try to make it
home for those), but I feel unwelcome
at funerals. I do not cause their deaths,
of course; but by now I must admit
that I do not improve their living.
For this, I am mistrusted, as a grazing
herd mistrusts the crows on either side
of carnage. In time, I tell myself,
I will detach from my own stillness,
become a witness of my own restraint.
For now, I shake the seething
off me like a dog shakes off pond water,
or a boy waggles off grain as he emerges
like a migrant from the fields.
“Family Gathering”is reprinted from Making the New Lamb Take (2007) by permission of Sarabande Books.