Table Manners

A new poem by Jack Hanson

Photo credit:  El Ronzo , Courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo credit: El Ronzo, Courtesy of Creative Commons

It’s the thing you must say, the habit formed
when you weren’t taking notice, the napkin
you lay across your lap to keep off what
scraps might fall. “Goes without,” is still to say,

and noticing doesn’t help. “What can I
do?” remains what you want to say, though not
to the grieving, rather the grieved, the mourned
body below, resolutely still.

You want to say, “What can I do to raise
you up, to breathe back into your lungs some
form of life, some semblance of meaning,
to keep out the rot, to push back the stone?”

Nothing suffices. You shun the chair made
of comfortable fabric, since it is not
habitable only to you but to                        
thousands of insects, too, who burrow and feast.


JACK HANSON is a contributing editor for Partisan.

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