"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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

Move Aside, Oxford Comma, the New Battle Is Over Single or Double Quotes

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Ben Bradlee’s Fascinating Relationship With JFK

Culturebox

The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 11:06 AM The Right to Run If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 10:37 AM Judge Upholds Puerto Rico’s Gay Marriage Ban in a Comically Inane Opinion
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 22 2014 11:04 AM Do All U.S. Presidents Look the Same? What About Japan’s Prime Ministers?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 22 2014 11:23 AM “I’m Not a Scientist” Is a Dangerous Cop-Out Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.