Talking with Mr. Murray in Bruegger’s Bagel Shop

At the long tables of time
God’s jars are boozing.
—Paul Celan

 

Discussing death is not high on our list,
not after a year of not talking at all,
but we do, between bites of bagel
commemorating Josh and Jerry and John,
buddies dead from cancer, and other
assorted persons of our mutual acquaintance,
dead from heart disease and old age.

Really, we mention them only in passing,
and by the last bite of our bagels
move on to politics and war, the economy,
recalcitrant students and teachers central
to our respective careers, then stuff them,
along with all our topics, into God’s jars,
mixing talk of mortality with hope and loss
with joy and any other high-proof, dark
sordidness with faith, and after two hours
take our leave of each other, contented at
having partaken of the long tables of time,
its banquet of bitter sweet, its spare bouquet.

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