Smallest of Last Things

With my husband in the hospital and family members arriving from near and far to help us in this crisis, I was grateful to all of them—but only wished I’d had more time to get our house ready for company. Nobody really cared or even noticed that our windows bore smudges of nose-prints left by curious cats—why was I fretting so? Finally I understood: it is far easier to worry about a host of little things than to face the deeper and more real fears.

Only when the health crisis was over, and my true love was the owner of a fine new heart valve, could I laugh at myself. It amuses me yet, to suppose that when “my time” comes, there I will be, tidying up the place first—or wishing I could. “Devoutly To Be Wished: a List” is not, of course, a serious prayer…exactly.

Careful readers may note a slight change in the closing line, made after both the printed and audio versions were produced. Revising, in such cases, far from being a tedious chore, is a temptation. The words of poems, too, want to be “in good order and repair.”

Devoutly To Be Wished: a List

For my house to be found neat and tidy
for once: floors swept and scrubbed,
still breathing the lingering scent of pine,
the furnishings, simple and spare,
left where I placed them as to appear
in their best light; my few belongings
in good order and repair; my windows, too,
through which the world clearly can be seen,
to shine, although individual flaws in the
original panes may cause some slight
wavering of otherwise solid and stalwart trunks
of trees; finally, my white curtains, freshly laundered
to welcome the snowy wings: these small requests
be granted, please, when to dust I shall return.

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