Alternate Endings

4 Sep

Alternate Endings

By L. Stewart Marsden

Scrolling through my files I stumbled on this pair of poems earlier published and titled similarly. Both were very conscious works, and reflect two every different endings. I’ve often heard it said that where spouses are concerned, the death of one is preferable to divorce. I’m at emotional odds with either, frankly. “Preferable” is a relative term. Neither – it seems to me – should ever be labeled “preferable.”

 

† † † † †

At the Last

At the last,
when the salt-brined smell of urine
soaked the entire room;
when you looked up and saw past me
beyond the darkening doom;
when you touched me with your purple-mottled hand
and gently squeezed;
when the curtains softly billowed
with the cooling evening breeze
and masked the stench of death
with a honey-suckled ease;
I wanted to hold on – and
not to ever let you free
from my selfish one desire:
please do not ever go from me.

† † † † †

At the Last, Again

At the last, when starched-white papers lay open on my desk,
and I saw your signature scribble, and leafed through all the rest
of official proclamations, now registered and done,
of the death of “and now they are one” where nobody won
and all took losses, stride for stride,
and not much was left – nor much to hide –
of what began in earnest and looked out hopefully,
yet ran its course for better,
then ran aground for worse
and now we both are finally free.
Aren’t we?

† † † † †

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