On reading about Alfred…






‘The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated’ ~ Mark Twain


The mottled bathroom mirror
confirmed what she already suspected –
she had indeed died in the night.

Later, water from the rusty shower head
dripping down her face,
she wrote her obituary

on the glass walls
of the steamy chamber,
recounting the pertinent details of her life;

age, place of birth, parents, education,
occupation, principal mourners,
attributes and accomplishments.

As the steam blurred her history,
she thought of Alfred
and began compiling a list of awards;

a prize for punctuality –
her father had always joked
that she would be late for her own funeral,

one for housework –
for paying more attention to the vacuuming
than the complex structure of villanelles,

a shield to those that tread carefully,
always weighing up the dangers before
diving straight into the mouth of adventure

and a tiny crystal goblet
for those that practiced restraint
in matters of temperance.

But the final accolade would go to those
that would read neither the lines
nor between them,

who would disregard
both her successes
and her failures

and simply judge her
by the mark she left
upon their mirrors.


~  Alfred is a reference to Alfred Nobel. On reading his wrongly reported obituary stating ‘the merchant of death is dead’ which condemned him for a lot of his accomplishments, the most famous being the invention of dynamite, he set about creating a legacy – the Nobel prizes, the most coveted of which is the Peace Prize which flies in the face of a lot of his life’s work.

This piece is about not being remembered for our perceived successes and failures but about something much deeper, the effect that we have on other people, how we make them feel – the mark we leave on their mirrors.


1 Comment

Filed under Free Verse

One response to “On reading about Alfred…

  1. Life is what we make of it…it’s a classic phrase for a reason. It is curious to think what will be remembered in the end, after we have gone…but I have to say, it would be a definitively haunting thing to see an obituary of ours before our time, to see what people took to be “the sum of us”. I’ve always wondered how Mark Twain, for one, was able to just grin and chuckle it all off…but then, some people can simply do that I suppose.

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