Whose Tragedy It Was, by Charlotte Mayerson

If your kid is musical

Don’t study piano.

And if he’s dying?

Stay off his turf.


I had to be slammed

To the ground

A thousand times

Before I figured out


Whose tragedy it was:

That, broken heart or no,

I’d one day sip

Condolence tea with honey

While he would choke

On snow.

With prescience came control:

When Robert slept,


I’d jab my dagger

At the vulture on the I-V pole,

Then quickly sheath it

Like a neat umbrella

When he awoke.

The notices prove

I mastered the role

So why the big delay?


Hurry, it’s time.

His death was his?

Where’s mine?

From “The Death Cycle Machine” by Charlotte Mayerson. (Crown: $16; 75 pp.)

Copyright 1995 Reprinted by permission.