Elegy of the Bereaved

Noah Isherwood

In the terrifying absolutism of worn grey carpets  

and LifeSaver mints,  

gatekeepers of loss, white pillars and pews, 

I reflect. 

 

I see age in the aged at once 

and realize whose tears force my own. 

Surrounded by slowing and silver-headed 

I bathe in acceptance of serial bereavement.  

 

Condolence unasked-for, paid in tears, 

strangers’ sympathy cane sugar thick 

constitutes theft of grief through 

overtures of faith from those unknown.  

 

Family faces unfamiliar to me 

mark cares and cares not   

of the departed, 

filial fires subjugated to whims of nostalgia. 

 

I listen to memories not mine 

I hear of faith and charity 

and wonder: 

Where is reality? 

Enraged at erasure and how 

“absent from the body” 

buys absolution from nuance  

and forfeiture of responsibility.  

 

Last of the Greatest Generation,  

first of manufactured aristocracy. 

Dignified in her disdain 

slow to change. 

 

Ninety minutes for ninety years, 

highlights chosen by the Favored. 

Complex, noxious, personal grief 

conscripted to generality. 

 

Celebration of life, the celebrants  

those who were perfect. 

The absent grieve alone 

for alone they suffered her.  

 

Hymn, eulogy, eternity,  

benediction to bless who remains. 

Shuffling out, mourners fast forgetting, 

eager to celebrate the Next. 

Fall 2021