Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Poet Well Versed in Grief

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

by Mary Plummer

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 National Book Award finalist, for “Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade,” and the subject of a 2007 “Frontline” documentary, Mr. Lynch has just published his fourth collection of poems, “Walking Papers.” It is a pilgrimage of sorts through growing old and facing death — subjects that caregivers know all too well. His upfront, unvarnished style is likely to resonate with many who have come face to face with life’s most important questions.

In the book’s title poem, Mr. Lynch advises an ailing friend to put aside his lab reports and explore a different type of medicine:

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.

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