MRS. FULLER RESPONDS
Sleep on, dear spouse, till Jesus comes
Till Gabriel’s trump shall burst the tomb.
Then may we wake, in sweet surprise,
Released from sin in transport rise,
Unite again, and soar on high
No more to part, no more to die.
~Epitaph for Mrs. Dorcas Fuller
Consort of Capt. Josiah Fuller
who died July 1,AD 1800
in the 31 year of her age
And what a surprise, dear spouse,
it will be: angels, trumpets,
the crack of this bursting stone,
earth parting over my skull.
To feel my bones come together,
dissolved flesh reshaped--
You’ll fly through the air
reaching toward me, or in some odd
convulsion of the Infinite,
you’ll simply be there,
holding my hand,
with our babies toddling all around.
Perhaps we’ll soar awhile
to look down on things I held so dear:
our little home, the flowers,
forest clearings full of birdsong,
the river breaking into foam.
I’d like that best, not
to rise straight up
through the blue sky,
directly to that cold unimaginable
city where nothing dies,
nothing separates or changes,
where no seed or sparrow falls.
I can remember how I died:
with you, before the doctor came.
Two little birds outside, so high
like souls escaping from a tomb.
Maybe like that, we will arise
to be together, so surprised.
To feel your kiss--O dear surprise--
your arms around me! Not to die
but live again, on wings to rise
above this earth where sorrow comes
and comes: our babies in their tomb,
our voices weeping harsh and high.
God did not hear us: God so high
he could not care, nor be surprised.
He made this earth a living tomb--
anguish of love--we live to die
and die again. O let Him come
with His answers. I will not rise
until He answers, will not rise
above this dust, to float so high
I cannot see where autumn comes:
the apples, all their red surprise,
the garden full, ready to die.
I will not leave my earthen tomb
until He answers from this tomb
that He created. Let Him rise
when He Himself has learned to die.
The stars, the moon, the sun move high
above where I lie, unsurprised,
where I will stay until He comes.
“Sleep on,” is it, presumably in peace?
What are you afraid that I might do?
Oh, I’ve been watching you ogling Jenny
--those innocent blue eyes, her tight body
as yet uninvaded by you or your brats.
I know where you are sleeping now.
But I take my satisfaction:
it won’t be many years
before her sweet voice sounds harsh,
before she grows tired of your drunken nights,
your blows, your sour breath,
your pitiful attempts at what I can’t call “love”.
When she has worn out, you’ll sink her here
beside me and your endless spawn,
with another cold slate slab to keep her down,
just as you kept me, and Ann before me,
under the weight of your body,
your dirt, your cold and rocky god.