The Beyond

The Beyond

By John Hammond

They say obituaries
are reading matter for the old,
who soon will plant their own flag
on that far shore – like the Apollo 11 crew,
perhaps, in some gray and windless place.

Death speaks more softly to the young,
who only hear his long distance calls
when a friend drowns waterskiing one summer
or as they drive past the large oak tree
where a classmate crashed into the beyond.

We think of the next world as absence,
without appointments, mortgages, chocolate,
or what we grandly call The News —
a mystery for faith, dreams, and myth to sort out,
while we devote ourselves to life after birth.

Should they come back to us for a visit, the dead
would not likely speak of the otherworld.
Instead, I can picture my father just returning
as from an evening walk, a minor sub-plot
in God’s long, multi-generational novel.

He opens the front door, leans across the threshold
by a vase of fresh flowers, and closes the parenthesis
of his life with words that linger in the air:
“Live well.  Love well.  Remember me.”

[copied from a San Antonio Express clipping; did not have the date.  John Hammond is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and Brandeis University and directs public relations at San Antonio College.]


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