John Wood

Double Elegy: for a Child, for an Old Man

Age or accident defeats us all,
and the Bring-Down is the same.
When is it not a tragedy, that call
back to extinction, life’s game

fizzled? My friend’s just born son,
born too soon to beat back
the storm of pathogens outside the amnion—
little loaf of bread gone to wreck.

Or the old friend who survived Nazi skies,
his son’s bones left as debris on a jungle floor,
for nothing his prosperity and wives—
whose heart finally arrested at its core.

But were Nature fair in ways we have it be—
no luck, no chance, a dance of perfected design
with lives and planets spinning supernaturally,
we’d turn his pulleys into gallows to decline.