Linda Pastan

My Obituary
September 19, 2019 Pastan Linda

My Obituary

Will it merit a full column in The Post or The Times
or just a squib by a relative late for work?
Will it mention awards I didn’t win,
poems that didn’t quite scan,
and how a student asked me once
if  “To a Daughter Leaving Home”
was my penance for driving a daughter away?
It will surely say I was born in the Bronx,
spending the first few weeks of my life
in the hospital nursery, alone.  Which may
account for my chronic melancholy
and why I keep blaming my surgeon father
who tried to do his best for me
but whose anger always mirrored mine.
Some obituaries written years in advance
are stored in the newspaper’s basement vault,
like turkey vultures asleep in their nests,
just waiting for death to catch up with life.
Let any newspaper where my obituary appears
be used to keep the floor clean under the dog’s dish.
And let my “survived by…” children remember me
not by a list of ambiguous facts collected
like so much mathematical data, but by my usual
obsessions: rising bread and falling leaves.

Linda Pastan was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1991-1995.  In 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement. Her book, Insomnia,  came out in 2015 and A Dog Runs Through It in 2018. Almost An Elegy: New and Later Selected Poems, will be published in 2022.