Regretfully, many of us have never experienced strong bonds with any members outside of my immediate family. We exchange hugs and pleasantries and talk the night away at family reunions, but there is always the next day’s flight or next week’s work looming over the occasion. This poem speaks of one person's connection to their family and their longing to be with them. it presents an optimistic and mature view of death.
Pastan fills this brief poem with short phrases. No line is over 5 words long. This brevity keeps the pace flowing and adds emphasis to each word. Each phrase must be considered in isolation as we try to understand the context of the larger poem. We get the sense that these phrases are fleeting thoughts as she walks through the cemetery. It's almost as if we are following her thought process as she comes to the insightful conclusion at the end.
Serenity and peace
This poem reminded me of just how serene cemeteries are. Some of us have had only a few instances with death. We have attended the funerals for those we know and love and they were some of the most heart-wrenching experiences imaginable. Cemeteries lug this ominous connotation around, however, as we walk among the rows of headstones, we often feel peace. It was almost as if there is tranquility emanating from the resting bodies. Visions of the deceased laughing and talking fill our minds. We can imagine the deceased doing all of the things that we've heard them do in stories passed down through the generations.
The reference to a “grown-up secret” (l. 17) is phenomenal. Death is a fascinating concept. The faith, heart, and the logical part our beings testify to us that there must be a life afterwards. It's not that we want to die, but it will sure be an adventure when we do! Despite referring to death and coffins, this poem leaves us feeling cheery and calm.
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Death will inevitable come to all of us. Pastan paints it as a step in a much larger plan. In a non-morbid way, she is anxious and slightly impatient for that day to come. She understands that there must be something afterwards and longs to be reunited with her loved ones. We almost get the sense that she feels like a child again as she did at those "family dinners". She wants to be part of the "big kid table" once more.
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