"Slightly Tearful"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Feb. 24 2009 7:09 AM

"Slightly Tearful"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Mark Halliday read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes..

Slightly tearful I get reading Henry King's "Exequy"
in the coffee shop imagining for three seconds what it would be
to outlive my dear Jill

but only slightly briefly tearful because it's a coffee shop after all
and because I do re-realize as usual that the tears would be
largely for me

and the beauty of my devotion
and that in a long blue shadow behind a sweetly hypothetical sorrow
there waits the possibility—

the probability by and by that far more expensive tears will need to be shed
in anyone's life as in mine, so to save for that day seems wise;

accordingly it occurs to me that when I teach the "Exequy"
I'd better not read it aloud in class
because I'd get tearful

even before Henry King exclaims in a sudden parenthesis
that his dead wife was for him a world, his little world;
it's good for the professor to care

but the students sense that when the prof gets weepy
it's not good teaching; a serious frugality of tears
should be our study amid the hasting years.

.

Mark Halliday's fifth book of poems isKeep This Forever. He teaches at Ohio University.

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