Saturday, February 14, 2015

Donal Mahoney- A Poem

Waiting for the Same Thing

We're all waiting 
for the same thing, 
the old monk told me 
on a tour of the abbey 
the day after the monks 
buried my brother  
in the cemetery down 
by the creek.

At some abbeys, he said, 
monks make fruit cakes, 
cheese, jams or fudge
Every abbey, he said,   
has to sell something  
while we're waiting 
for the same thing.

I know you and your brother 
weren't close but he probably 
told you we've been making 
pine caskets for 70 years. 
He was an artist with a chisel. 
Never a word out of him. 
Just shavings of wood 
flying around him like moths. 
We have no one to replace him. 

And business is improving.
I don't know how we'll keep up. 
It's no longer just monks 
at the other abbeys 
buying our caskets. 
Suddenly civilians  
like the simple design, 
the plain box made out of pine, 
no puffery, nothing fancy.  
One man drove down here, 
bought two and fit both 
in the trunk of his Lexus.
Imagine that: our caskets
in the trunk of a Lexus.

The monks who make fruit cakes 
and other good food buy caskets 
from us and we buy what they make  
but we don't need fruit cakes 
the way they need our caskets.
Monks are getting older. 
The jams and fudge, however,
and the sharp cheddar cheese 
are a pleasant distraction 
while we're waiting 
for the same thing.

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. 

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