Monday, April 24, 2006

Intimations of Mortality

on being told by the dentist that this will be over soon

Indeed, it will soon be over, I shall be done
With the querulous drill, the forceps, the clove-smelling cotton.
I can go forth into fresher air, into sun,
This narrow anguish forgotten.

In twenty minutes or forty or half an hour,
I shall be easy, and proud of my hard-got gold,
But your apple of comfort is eaten by worms, and sour.
Your consolation is cold.

This will not last, and the day will be pleasant after.
Ill dine tonight with a witty and favorite friend.
No doubt tomorrow I shall rinse my mouth with laughter.
And also that will end.

The handful of time that I am charily granted
Will likewise pass, to oblivion duly apprenticed.
Summer will blossom and autumn be faintly enchanted.
Then time for the grave, or the dentist.

Because you are shrewd, my man, and your hand is clever,
You must not believe your words have a charm to spell me.
There was never a half of an hour that lasted forever.
Be quiet. You need not tell me.

Phyllis McGinley


  1. Dana, you have got me so intrigued by Phyllis McGinley. I looked up our library and they only had two Christmas books. I'll keep looking...

    Be quiet. Isn't that powerful?

  2. Yes, our library had mainly Christmas books, too. I bought the *Sixpence in Her Shoe* book for some *light* reading this year. I have a daughter getting married, so I thought the essays might be useful.
    And for fun, I am perusing her *Saint Watching* book on loan from the library. But basically still looking for the poetry.
    Google her for quotations...she has some good ones.