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Couplets -- Thomas Lynch

Guest poem submitted by Steve Axbey:

The last poem I submitted (1) was an old favourite of mine, this one I read only
this morning but was very taken with...
(Poem #461) Couplets
Two girls found dead. My sons go to the morgue.
Two cots, thick rubber gloves, two body bags.

Too long stuffed in a culvert, raped and stabbed,
too decomposed to recognise. Too sad.

Two local ne'er-do-wells no doubt abused
too much as children themselves, stand mute.

Two caskets in a room, two families undone.
Two ministers. Two homilies. My sons

too busy with flowers and townspeople
to contemplate the problem of evil,

to shake their fists at God, regard instead
two funerals - the living and the dead

to be transported in their separate griefs -
two hearses to be washed, two limousines.

Today the wakes and paperwork details.
Tomorrow a burning and a burial.

Two girls found dead of known brutalities
together forever, precious memories

too sweet, too savage, too beautiful and bad
to keep at bay by ritual or words.

Two boys about their father's business learn
to number, comfort, witness and keep track.
-- Thomas Lynch
 From 'Still Life in Milford' (Cape Poetry, £8).

Why do I like this poem?

I found it very moving, and I found it very shocking - even though we are all
used to reading about crimes such as these, this is different - why? Because
there are two of them, of course. Which is (one of) the point(s) of the poem.

It's also a clever poem (I like clever poems).  The line-beginnings are great, I
think.

The last couplet really makes the poem memorable: Lynch is an undertaker, of
course, and the resonant phrase (about their father's business) is very
powerful, but it's also very abrupt, a new piece of information that brings the
earlier couplets into context.

The poem was in The Times which quoted it beside a review of Lynch's latest
book:

An important undertaking
BODIES IN MOTION AND AT REST
By Thomas Lynch
Jonathan Cape, £10
ISBN 0 224 06606 4

Here's a link to the review:
[broken link] http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/05/11/timbooboo02015.html
but I have to say it's terribly badly written - almost incomprehensible I
thought
[ the review, I mean, I haven't read the book :-) ]

Steve Axbey.

[1] poem #360

18 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Amit Chakrabarti said...

A nice two-meaning title too!!

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