By Adam Penna

Where is God’s angel now? I’d laugh
if my strength hadn’t left me, too,
and my son off healing the sick and the insane.
My wife undrapes herself before the mirror,
and still, to me, she is the virgin I married,
and every stick of furniture I made, if asked,
I’d trade to be her husband again.
I wasn’t young. I don’t think I ever was.
And now to call me old is to insult the old.
They’ll bury me with my father and his,
and all the men, who toiled to make
life possible for me. They played their part,
and this gave me the strength to play my part,
to do what I never wanted to because
God asked me and no other reason.
At last, they’ll wrap my body up in muslin,
embalm the cavity with sweet smelling things,
anoint my limbs and forehead, too.
But who will greet me on the other side?
I know that after this things must be different.
No one I used to know, the boys I played with,
the men I called uncle, brother, kin,
will meet me there. This is the worst
of all the consequences offered by salvation.
In heaven, whatever this new heaven is,
I’ll have to answer the prayers of whores and aliens.
The good men of my tribe were right
from the beginning. I have been dead for years.
I gave my life so strangers could be saved.

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One Response to “Joseph on his deathbed”


  1. […] otherwise at adampenna.wordpress.com. Read Penna’s poems “Men of Faith,” “Joseph on His Deathbed,” and “Breaking the Sabbath.” Rate this: Share […]


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