The last twenty years were good for practically everybody
save the dead. But maybe for them as well.
Maybe the Almighty Himself has turned a bit bourgeois
and uses a credit card. For otherwise time’s passage
makes no sense. Hence memories, recollections,
values, deportment. One hopes one hasn’t
spent one’s mother or father or both, or a handful of friends entirely
as they cease to hound one’s dreams. One’s dreams,
unlike the city, become less populous
the older one gets. That’s why the eternal rest
cancels analysis. The last twenty years were good
for practically everybody and constituted
the afterlife for the dead. Its quality could be questioned
but not its duration. The dead, one assumes, would not
mind attaining a homeless status, and sleep in archways
or watch pregnant submarines returning
to their native pen after a worldwide journey
without destroying life on earth, without
even a proper flag to hoist.


Joseph Brodsky, "Transatlantic" from Collected Poems in English, 1972-1999. Copyright © 2000 by Joseph Brodsky.  Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.
Source: Collected Poems in English, 1972-1999 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2000)
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