Someday, Lilacs Will Bloom on Your Grave
by Theodora Goss
If you have never been beautiful,
you will become beautiful. Have you ever seen
the long, lean elegance of bone?
All that is unclean about you,
the degenerate flesh that longed and dreamed,
the stomach with its hungers,
the heart with its lusts, even the pink knot
of the brain with its strange fantasies, its belief
in the importance of the ephemeral,
will be long gone.
If you have never been famous,
you will become at least
this famous: a stone will proclaim
that you lived, which is finally
the most important thing about you:
that you were given the same chance
as the king of a mighty kingdom,
a mouse in the kitchen corner.
If you have never been wealthy,
you will be given what money can’t buy:
time to rest peacefully in the turning earth,
in still, dark soil with roots and worms
beneath the grass, beneath
an always-changing sky.
No millionaire sleeps as soundly
as the dead.
And if you have been all these things,
if you have known beauty, fame, wealth,
if in life you were one of the fortunate
who walked in gold, you will gain at last
anonymity, becoming one of many
in the fellowship of the dead, the poverty
of keeping all your possessions in one box,
the uniformity of being pared down
to your essential elements.
Do not be sad: you have been given
nothing and everything. Every spring,
the lilacs will wave over you.
(The image is Lilacs by Vincent Van Gogh.)