Posthumous

By Jean Nordhaus b. 1939 Jean Nordhaus
Would it surprise you to learn
that years beyond your longest winter
you still get letters from your bank, your old
philanthropies, cold flakes drifting
through the mail-slot with your name?
Though it's been a long time since your face
interrupted the light in my door-frame,
and the last tremblings of your voice
have drained from my telephone wire,
from the lists of the likely, your name
is not missing. It circles in the shadow-world
of the machines, a wind-blown ghost. For generosity
will be exalted, and good credit
outlasts death. Caribbean cruises, recipes,
low-interest loans. For you who asked
so much of life, who lived acutely
even in duress, the brimming world
awaits your signature. Cancer and heart disease
are still counting on you for a cure.
B'nai Brith numbers you among the blessed.
They miss you. They want you back.

Source: Poetry (February 1999).

Biography

Poet Jean Nordhaus earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Barnard College and a PhD in German literature from Yale University. She is the author of the poetry chapbook A Language of Hands (1982) as well as the collections A Bracelet of Lies (1987), The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn (2002), and Innocence (2006).
 
Exploring the dramatic monologue in The Porcelain Apes of Moses Mendelssohn, Nordhaus depicts the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy, Epistle, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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