Song of Welcome

Here’s your mom, here’s your dad.
Welcome to being their flesh and blood.
Why do you look so sad?

Here’s your food, here’s your drink.
Also some thoughts, if you care to think.
Welcome to everything.

Here’s your practically clean slate.
Welcome to it, though it’s kind of late.
Welcome at any rate.

                                        ____

Here’s your paycheck, here’s your rent.
Money is nature’s fifth element.
Welcome to every cent.

Here’s your swarm and your huge beehive.
Welcome to the place with its roughly five
billion like you alive.

Welcome to the phone book that stars your name.
Digits are democracy’s secret aim.
Welcome to your claim to fame.

                                        ____

Here’s your marriage, and here’s divorce.
Now that’s the order you can’t reverse.
Welcome to it; up yours,

Here’s your blade, here’s your wrist.
Welcome to playing your own terrorist;
call it your Middle East.

Here’s your mirror, your dental gleam.
Here’s an octopus in your dream.
Why do you try to scream?

                                        ____

Here’s your corncob, your TV set.
Your candidate suffering an upset.
Welcome to what he said.

Here’s your porch, see the cars pass by.
Here’s your shitting dog’s guilty eye.
Welcome to its alibi.

Here are your cicadas, then a chickadee,
the bulb’s dry tear in your lemon tea.
Welcome to infinity.

                                        ____

Here are your pills on the plastic tray,
your disappointing, crisp X-ray.
You are welcome to pray.

Here’s your cemetery, a well-kept glen.
Welcome to a voice that says “Amen.”
The end of the rope, old man.

Here’s your will, and here’s a few
takers. Here’s an empty pew.
Here’s life after you.

                                        ____

And here are your stars which appear still keen
on shining as though you had never been.
They might have a point, old bean.

Here’s your afterlife, with no trace
of you, especially of your face.

Welcome, and call it space.


Welcome to where one cannot breathe.
This way, space resembles what’s underneath,
and Saturn holds the wreath.



Joseph Brodsky, "Song of Welcome" 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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