The Adirondack Review
Preparing the Body

for Dylan Thomas

A man whose voice commands the most fickle ear

to fall silent and listen, you’d expect him to outrun

the length of a hospital bed, you’d suspect he knew

just how to woo death into giving him a few more

rounds of Tullamore Dew, straight, to even the score.

But, my God, what a bore to be wallowing in sheets

tinged with the smells of death, the slow drip

by the bedside counting down the seconds until

a mind feverish with words writes its epitaph.  

I saw him once, you know, at a reading over at the Y.

He sang the most elaborate curses from the platform,

but that’s why even the stuffed-shirts showed up

to bear witness.  You don’t realize what fire is

until you’ve heard his voice like a blow torch,

though now it disappears within the shell

of this shell-shocked skin.  Poor John,

you look as if you’d seen a ghost, as I pass the cloth

over an alabaster hand, stubby as a child’s.  What

remains untouched by this hand, John, is worse for it.

If only I could say these things out loud—oh, well.   

His chest sobs now, weeping for what the heart lacks.

The spider’s web of perspiration covers every inch

of white skin, some invisible black widow spinning

her quiet work within his body.  The softened brain,

once brilliant, reaches through the dark

to turn off its flickering light.  Lungs coated

in the familiar scent of tobacco heave and sigh.

Even a poet is finally made human, each vital part

paying penance for his sin.  But no matter as I raise

the stiffened sheet—he will not wake again.  

Maghan Lusk







The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poemsThe St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems
The St. Lawrence Book Award for a first collection of short stories or poems