Thursday, 14 June 2007

Canticle From The Book Of Bob (Lucia Perillo)

We hired the men to carry the coffin,
we hired a woman to sing in our stead.
We hired a limo, we hired a driver,
we hired each lily to stand with its head

held up and held open while Scripture was read.
We hired a dustpan, we hired a broom
to sweep up the pollen that fell in the room
where we'd hired some air

to draw out the stale chord
from the organ we hired.
And we hired some tears because our own eyes were tired.

The pulpit we hired, we hired the priest
to say a few words about the deceased,

and money changed hands
and the process was brief.
We said, "Body of Christ."
Then we hired our grief.

We hired some young men to carry his coffin,
we hired a woman to sing for his soul -
we hired the limo, we hired the driver,
then we hired the ground and we hired the hole.


(_New Yorker_, Feb 12 2001, recently found while shuffling old papers)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have this poem framed amongst other art. Have been studying the villanelle of late and thinking of how this poem is so not a traditional villanelle but the insistence of the word 'hired' haunts me and the meaning seems to change-to me-throughout the poem.
I NEVER do this-write to folk I don't know about poetry.
Am reading "The Body Mutinies" now. Have you ever? Perhaps this is dangerous but jennifersims@lycos.com as I will never revisit this post again