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Lines on Retirement, after Reading Lear

by David Wright

for Richard Pacholski

Avoid storms. And retirement parties.
You canít trust the sweetnesses your friends will
offer, when they really want your office,
which theyíll redecorate. Beware the still
untested pension plan. Keep your keys. Ask
for more troops than you think youíll need. Listen
more to fools and less to colleagues. Love your
youngest child the most, regardless. Back to
storms: dress warm, take a friend, donít eat the grass,
donít stand near tall trees, and keep the yelling
down—the winds wonít listen, and no one will
see you in the dark. Itís too hard to hear
you over all the thunder. But youíre not
Lear, except that we canít stop you from what
youíve planned to do. In the end, no one leaves
the stage in character—we never see
the feather, the mirror held to our lips.
So donít wait for skies to crack with sun. Feel
the stormís sweet sting invade you to the skin,
the strange, sore comforts of the wind. Embrace
your childrenís ragged praise and that of friends.
Go ahead, take it off, take it all off.
Run naked into tempests. Weave flowers
into your hair. Bellow at cataracts.
If you dare, scream at the gods. Babble as
if you thought words could save. Drink rain like cold
beer. So much better than making theories.
Weíd all come with you, laughing, if we could.

Reprinted from In a Fine Frenzy, published by the University of Iowa Press.
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