American Life in Poetry: Column 517

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The Dalai Llama has said that dying is just getting a new set of clothes. Here’s an interesting take on what it may be like for the newly departed, casting off their burdens and moving with enthusiasm into the next world. Kathleen Aguero lives in Massachusetts.

Send Off

The dead are having a party without us.
They’ve left our worries behind.
What a bore we’ve become
with our resentment and sorrow,
like former lovers united
for once by our common complaints.
Meanwhile the dead, shedding pilled sweaters,
annoying habits, have become
glamorous Western celebrities
gone off to learn meditation.

We trudge home through snow
to a burst pipe,
broken furnace, looking
up at the sky where we imagine
they journey to wish them bon voyage,
waving till the jet on which they travel
first class is out of sight—
only the code of its vapor trail left behind.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Kathleen Aguero from her most recent book of poems, After That, (Tiger Bark Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Kathleen Aguero and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.