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Teaching the Tragedies

They see how lightly tragedies begin: old friends
approach, trade jokes, then ask the whereabouts
of someone else. Inconsequential chit chat.
I know by training what to think: invoking absent ones;

that's nature out of balance. But I stay quiet
and watch my best take turns reading aloud.
Premonitions, prayers, misgivings
all uttered much as we ourselves utter such things

without implying real belief in astral influence
or providence. In the mutilated versions
that Restoration audiences knew
finding the art in grief was just the same:

the principal requirement of loss.
Then, all the afterthoughts of obvious
but distant analogues.  This morning's work
is metrics - harmless stuff, except for one:

a girl whose lovely throat warbles
what ought to be our longest vowels -
our sad approach. I make her try again,
knowing she'll have to do the rest herself.


Copyright © 2002 M. B. McLatchey All rights reserved.
Published in The Southern Poetry Review, Fall/Winter 2003.

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