Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Original Poem: "Work of the Living"

On a recent business trip to Norfolk, VA, I wandered into a local bookstore and found an anthology of poems edited by Harold Bloom called Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems.

These last phrases are taken from a particularly poignant poem by A. R. Ammons called "In View of the Fact."
...until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every 
loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter 
and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way....
In the margins I wrote, "work of the living" which then brought my mind back to the work we had to do after the awful discovery. 

Work of the Living
by Sue Anderson

When the dead die,
     their job is done.
Not so with the living
    whose labor has just begun.

Unfair, unsolicited work
    is thrust on the living,
While the dead rest:
    calm, at peace, in a sleep-like state.

Not so for us:
    people to call,
    explanations to make,
    family to greet,
    friends to hug.

The house swells with those
    coming to do their job:
    Remember the dead.

To do lists:
    funeral to arrange,
    service to organize,
    casket to choose,
    burial ground to pick,
    pictures to sort,
    final clothes to gather.

While the dead rest
    and wait for their final hurrah,
    calm, oblivious to all.

Not to mention the tears,
    floodgates open.
Who knew the volume of brine
    that could come from within?

    she is a relentless taskmaster;
    non-existent in the past,
    omnipresent now.

Do the dead know
    what work has been place on their loved ones?

If they knew, would they have:
    sliced or

Over time; however, 
    the work does lessen.
The load seems lighter,
    the burden status quo.

The job now is to light the candle
    of eternal remembrance,
Letting it shine in the world's dark spaces,
    to prevent other such deaths.

It is our job now,


1 comment:

Emily said...

This poem is beautiful, Sue. I think the work of the living, though an exhausting burden, can be a comforting part of grief, like for my Grandma this past year. We had time to discuss with her what she wanted for her funeral and what she wanted to wear, etc. But when someone is suddenly taken, it is something so suddenly thrust upon you and a painful burden to bear. It truly is like your poem said, the person you lost is peacefully resting and you are left behind in chaos to pick up the pieces.