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After the rabbi’s game repeating back

ISSUE:  Winter 2008

After the rabbi’s game repeating back
Of anecdotes he heard an hour before,
But edited to bland endorsements like
Those on a dating-service questionnaire—
Funny, liked to travel, good with kids—
How can he ask the mourners to believe
In anything he says the Psalmist said?
The euphemism of eternal life,
Received in awkward silence like the false
Prognosis used to keep the patient calm,
We let go by politely; what consoles
Is this true image of the World to Come:
The jostle of the pine box on the straps
Slackening as the diggers turn a crank,
The mourners shoveling the streaky clumps
That scatter with a soft unanswered knock.


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