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By Thomas P. Lynch

He’ll have been the last of his kind here then.

The flagstones, dry-stone walls, the slumping thatch,

out-offices and cow cabins, the patch

of haggard he sowed spuds and onions in—

all of it a century out of fashion—

all giving way to the quiet rising damp

of hush and vacancy once he is gone.

Those long contemplations at the fire, cats

curling at the door, the dog’s lame waltzing,

the kettle, the candle and the lamp—

all still, all quenched, all darkened—

the votives and rosaries and novenas,

the pope and Kennedy and Sacred Heart,

the bucket, the basket, the latch and lock,

the tractor that took him into town and back

for the pension cheque and messages and pub,

the chair, the bedstead and the chamber pot,

everything will amount to nothing much.

Everything will slowly disappear.

And some grandniece, a sister’s daughter’s daughter,

one blue August in ten or fifteen years

will marry well and will inherit it:

the cottage ruins, the brown abandoned land.

They’ll come to see it in a hired car.

The kindly Liverpudlian she’s wed,

in concert with a local auctioneer,

will post a sign to offer Site for Sale.

The acres that he labored in will merge

with a neighbor’s growing pasturage

and all the decades of him will begin to blur,

easing, as the far fields of his holding did,

up the hill, over the cliff, into the sea.


Thomas Lynch, “Himself” from Walking Papers: 1999-2009. Copyright © 2010 by Thomas Lynch. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Walking Papers: 1999-2009 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2010)

  • Living
  • Relationships
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Thomas P. Lynch
Director of the funeral home Lynch & Sons in Milford, Michigan, Thomas Lynch’s career has given him a unique perspective on human life cycles. His poetry provides glimpses into both his work preparing the dead and the rhythms and dramas of everyday small town life. Lynch’s Irish Catholic upbringing also influenced his poems, which sometimes include references to Irish myths. He divides his time between Michigan and Ireland.

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