It's the other ones, who soon enough return
to being happy after the funeral, that are nearest
to their own deaths—in their gaiety
and everyday distraction, they're so open

and unguarded . . . anything could enter them;
could claim them. It's the ones who weep
incessantly that are saved for now, the ones
who have taken a little of it

into their systems: this is how
inoculation works. And sorrow is difficult,
a job: it requires time to complete.
And the tears?—the salt

of the folk saying,
that gets sprinkled over the tail feathers
and keeps a bird from flying;
keeps it stationed in this world.

More Poems by Albert Goldbarth