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In Linda Pastan's poem from her latest collection of the same name, the narrator proposes to prepare for the parting that comes with death while "in the fallacy of perfect health . . . ." Now, while there is time, dear ones could behave toward each other with all the loving tenderness befitting a preparation for permanent loss. Then the "ragged things that are coming next . . . would be like postscripts . . . Nothing could touch us."
Summary:The poet stands in the Protestant Cemetery at Rome, beside the grave of John Keats, on which the epitaph is written: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." The poet addresses the cemetery ("Fair little city of the pilgrim dead"), commenting on the beauty of the place and of its music: "Sing in the pure security of bliss." Yet, even this serene place cannot comfort the poet, who has inherited "the anguish of the doubt / Writ on this gravestone."
Summary:This poem is narrated by a school girl watching her anorexic mother force herself to eat cottage cheese so she can stay alive for her daughter. Apparently the mother's mother has also died young (at age twenty or so), and this mother at forty has no will to live, but forces herself to survive for the sake of her child.
Summary:An old, man--a Chinese immigrant to America--is dying in Chinatown, "a sick dog" who yearns for his homeland and for the wife "who died waiting / in the home of my province . . . . " He can't relate to the young political activists who want him to join in protest against "this gray life"--a life which has never really engaged him. He imagines his ashes being carried by the waterways to join the ashes of his wife; she is the helmsman who will lead him back to comfort and joy.
Summary:A physician comes to live with her sister and brother-in-law while setting up practice in their town. She observes the relationship between the two and determines to practice her art, albeit a bit deceitfully, to remedy what she sees as unhealthy and unhappy between the elderly married couple. The story unravels the physician's psycho-social methods and follows their implementation to an apparently successful outcome.
Summary:A daughter is haunted by recollections of strife between her parents, now dead. She sides with her mother in the weekly disputes over money--the overt manifestations of a difficult marital relationship and a life lived on the edge of poverty. But in the end, she recognizes that her father "was the son of a needy father" and that her parents "were each other's bad bargain, not mine."
Summary:The speaker in this poem provides a vivid portrayal of the recovery room experience from the perspective of an articulate patient. Where he had been warned about the room's brightness, he was unprepared for the keening woman in the adjacent bed and the "false and stark balm delivered to her crumpled ear" by the nurse. He and other "freshly filleted" and "drug-docile" visitors to this room wait in the anesthetized setting of otherness or in-between for release. The patient feels like a "diver serving time against the bends" or like one of eight piano keys parallely parked. While waiting for the return of sensation in his lower body, he imagines that he is like a "truculent champagne" loosening off "petulant bubbles," a few at a time.
Summary:A college student takes a job as companion to a young composer who is considered crazy. The composer believes the ghost (Aghwee the Sky Monster) of his son visits him because his soul cannot rest; it cannot because the father allowed the child to die by agreeing to have it fed only sugar water. The composer dies when he thinks he's saving his son from being struck by a truck. The narrator, ten years later, recounts the composer's story because he connects it in his mind with an important event in his own life.