On a Golden Asian Pear by Karen Mulhallen

Poem name: On a Golden Asian Pear Poet name: Karen Mulhallen Poem: For John Evans 1943-2019  ACTOR  In nineteen days you will be dead.  but here at a little table on a sunny sidewalk on College at Palmerston I survey the menu. It’s the Bar Raval, and the offerings are all tapas: little offerings, some delicious, just like life.  I’m sitting with Rita, and we are pleased with ourselves on this glorious fall afternoon. It’s Yom Kippur, Wednesday, the ninth of September, but we don’t talk about atonement, we discuss the future, our writings, our hopes my feelings of being underutilized,  her wisdoms offered in response.  A woman approaches with a white plastic bag. She’s an ordinary looking woman, no need to be on the alert as she begins to speak, hello I’m the Queen of England could you spare some change? Rita opens her purse and hands Queen Elizabeth a twenty dollar bill.  Queen Elizabeth opens her eyes wide, opens her bag,  in it displays a glorious golden Asian Pear. In nineteen days, further west on College street, Sidecar another restaurant, will close, never to reopen: all tender dreams of humanity, Rita’s gift of a twenty dollar bill,  the beggar woman with the Asian pear, stolen from FreshCo, your desire, unfulfilled, to play Prospero.  Some rough magic haunts us,  the deep moans with many voices: I enter the funeral home guestbook— My picture, my seasons in the key of J,  all times, all pageants insubstantial love played in an unknown key:  Ave atque Vale, Hail and Farewell May your dreams be rich and strange— Though no tempest, even in its roaring will wake you, sleeper, while day continues to chase the night. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Karen Mulhallen Karen Mulhallen has published 17 books of poetry. Her new collection of fifteen elegies will be published in the UK by the Black Spring Publishing Group in 2021. The group of elegies was short-listed for the 2019 International Beverly Prize for Literature. All of these elegies which exam contemporary tragedies and heroism are based on news stories.In working between poetry and prose in these documentary elegies I am asking whether the traditional elegy with its dignity and sonority can encompass the scale of contemporary disasters.