An Early Afterlife by Linda Pastan

An Early Afterlife
by Linda Pastan

Why don’t we say good-bye right now
In the fallacy of perfect health
before whatever is going to happen
happens. We could perfect our parting,
like those characters in On the Beach
who said farewell in the shadow
of the bomb as we sat watching, young and holding hands at the movies.

We could used the loving words
we otherwise might not have time to say.
We could hold each other for hours
in a quintessential dress rehearsal.
Then we could just continue
for however many years were left.
The ragged thing that are coming next—
arteries closing like rivers silting over
or rampant cells stampeding us to the exit—
would be like postscripts to our lives
and wouldn’t matter. And we could bask
in an early afterlife of ordinary days,
impervious to the inclement weather
already in our long-range forecast.
Nothing could touch us. We’d never
have to say good-bye again.

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