A Poem by Thomas Lynch: ‘Father Andrews’

Thomas Lynch has written six poetry collections, 5 books of essays, and one quantity of quick tales; in 1997, he was a finalist for the National Book Award. Writing isn’t even Lynch’s day job. Since 1974, he’s been a funeral director within the city of Milford, Michigan. The lifetime of an undertaker may appear radically totally different from that of a author, however there are some significant similarities: Both jobs require a sensitivity to emotional ache, a way of obligation to take care of grief, and a deft method with phrases. In a 2013 interview, Lynch defined: “When a death occurs, people are looking for a language to describe what happened. We are trying to address through language things that are unspeakable, things we don’t have a ready vocabulary for.”

This potential to stroll folks by way of unspeakable loss drew Lynch to endeavor. His father was a funeral director, and Lynch grew up witnessing how vital even the smallest kindnesses have been to folks in mourning. It was gratifying, “just taking coats and moving flowers and helping people through the maze of a funeral home, when at the end of the evening, the widower or widow or surviving child takes you by the shoulders and says, ‘I couldn’t have done this without you,’” he stated in the identical interview. “All I had to do was show up and do my part. It wasn’t brain surgery. It was simply humanity.”

“Father Andrews” is an ode to a different form of quiet however steadfast presence—a priest. Death occurs, Lynch notes, no matter what we mortals do. Father Andrews is aware of, too, that “we have our little say and then are silent.” But all the identical, he continues to indicate up. He meets the mourners, and even realizing that he doesn’t have all of the solutions, he tries to determine issues out with them. There is a particular form of holiness, Lynch suggests, to these individuals who understand how a lot on this planet they can’t change, however carry out their function dutifully, hoping it could relieve somebody. It’s merely humanity.

A pdf of the original page, with a coffin pasted on in a collage of images, showing a blue sky with clouds and a gesturing hand

You can zoom in on the web page right here.

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