Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thomas Lynch

I've been feeling fairly chipper and busy, which can only mean that for you, dear readers, it's time for something dark and indolent.  One of the things I miss about living down south is the sense of atmosphere.  New England has an atmosphere, but it's a spare and etiolated thing, redolent of the pilgrims and puritans and characterized by restraint.  There's not much excess here -- perhaps because excess would have required the expenditure of more energy than one can spare in such an inhospitable clime. 

I lack the energy for a comparable disquisition on the atmospherics of the south.  Nor is this poem a product of the south.  In addition to his literary strivings, Thomas Lynch is a Michigan undertaker.  He is not coy about mingling his work and his art, and the result is poetry that's well-suited for the upcoming Halloween season.

Putting it that way sounds trite and dismissive, but that is not my intent.  I don't think literature suffers from a bit of acquaintance with excess -- or why would we still be so mad for the Romantics and Victorians?

These Things Happen in the Lives of Women

The first time he ever bought her lingerie
she was dead of gin and librium and years
of trying to regain her innocence.
"These things happen in the lives of women. . . ."
is what the priest told him. "They lose their way."
And lost is what she looked like lying there
awash in her own puke and the disarray
of old snapshots and pill bottles,
bedclothes and letters and mementos of
the ones with whom she had been intimate.
She was cold already. Her lips were blue.
So he bought her a casket and red roses
and bought silk panties and a camisole
and garters and nylons and a dressing gown
with appliques in the shape of flowers.
And after the burial he bought a stone
with her name and dates on it and wept aloud
and went home after that and kept weeping.

Thomas Lynch on Wikipedia


  1. Whoa... you had me at etiolated.. one of my favorite words. The poet, I had never heard of him but think I'd better remedy that. A fine fine poem.

  2. Isn't it such an underused word? And so apt an adjective! Glad you enjoyed. :)