A Postmortem Guide (For my eulogist, in advance) Do not praise me for my exceptional serenity. Can't you see I've turned away from the large excitements, and have accepted all the troubles? Go down to the old cemetery; you'll see there's nothing definitive to be said. The dead once were all kinds-- boundary breakers and scalawags, martyrs of the flesh, and so many dumb bunnies of duty, unbearably nice. I've been a little of each. And, please, resist the temptation of speaking about virtue. The seldom-tempted are too fond of that word, the small- spirited, the unburdened. Know that I've admired in others only the fraught straining to be good. Adam's my man and Eve's not to blame. He bit in; it made no sense to stop. Still, for accuracy's sake you might say I often stopped, that I rarely went as far as I dreamed. And since you know my hardships, understand they're mere bump and setback against history's horror. Remind those seated, perhaps weeping, how obscene it is for some of us to complain. Tell them I had second chances. I knew joy. I was burned by books early and kept sidling up to the flame. Tell them that at the end I had no need for God, who'd become just a story I once loved, one of many with concealments and late-night rescues, high sentence and pomp. The truth is I learned to live without hope as well as I could, almost happily, in the despoiled and radiant snow. You who are one of them, say that I loved my companions most of all. In all sincerity, say they provided a better way to be alone.
--Stephen Dunn (c. 2001)