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As Long As You’re Happy

ISSUE:  Spring 1983
I don’t know what the Bible says—
my mother who died after being
mercilessly kept alive
by machines at the hospital
looked at the photo of my fiancée
and said, “As long as you’re happy . . .”
as if it were the final measure of my reach.

The star through which I shot
my young heart has little value now
except as an occasional reference point,
a piece of cosmic punctuation
some third-rate planet may depend on
to survive.

What I thought was an ethical problem
of existence was just a broken heart.
The woman for whom I have ransomed
my wife and children would like to erase
the past. I would like to gather them all,
please, under one roof, one heart.

About my mother . . .
each day the doctors and machines
told us her chances of living
with one more operation
on her overburdened heart
would probably be better.
I thought of reading the Bible then.
It wasn’t a question of being happy.


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