Gabriel Fried

Family Gathering

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.