It continues fashionable to mourn the death of ritual.
We miss the Neolithic ochre, smoking censers, silly hats
Cthulhu and Harryhausen prayers, all the mystic flap.
No one has ever owned death much better than that.
Still, ours are not that bad.
Hospitals have strict norms,
Specific times and tricky forms,
Rotting fruit and flowers.
We say conventional things at canonical hours.
Notes on the PoemOur Poem of the Week is from the 2019 Griffin-shortlisted collection, The Art of Dying (McGill-Queen's University Press) by poet Sarah Tolmie. Of the collection, the judges said: “A modern danse macabre in eighty-nine parts, Sarah Tolmie’s The Art of Dying conceals a multifaceted meditation on mortality beneath its deceptively simple lyric surface. An irreverent feminist in the tradition of Dorothy Parker and Stevie Smith, Tolmie leverages the subversive possibilities of doggerel to upend our assumptions about everything from abortion to the Anthropocene. Wickedly funny, this is work of great intimacy, too, introducing us to a mother, concerned citizen, social media addict, bookworm, and bon vivant who wants nothing more than to remain ‘Here on the quiet earth that I still love, / Where the last humans are.’” Listen to Sarah Tolmie read for the Griffin Poetry Prize Award Ceremony here