Pharaoh

“The future ain’t what it used to be,”
said the sage of the New York Yankees
as he pounded his mitt, releasing
the red dust of the infield
into the harshly illuminated evening air.

Big hands. Men with big hands
make things happen. The surgeon,
when I asked how big your tumor was,
held forth his substantial fist
wlth its globed class ring.

Home again, we live as charily as strangers.
Things are off. Touch rankles, food
is not good. Even the kindness of friends
turns burdensome; their flowers sadden
us, so many and so fair.

I woke in the night to see your
diminished bulk lying beside me–
you on your back, like a sarcophagus
as your feet held up the covers. . .
The things you might need in the next
life surrounded you — your comb and glasses,
water, a book and a pen.

Jane Kenyon from Constance (1993)