Monday, September 7, 2015

Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch is a Michigan poet, fiction writer, essayist and undertaker. Yes, you read that correctly. In 1974 he took over his father's position as funeral director in Milford, Michigan, and has served that community ever since. His 1997 essay collection, The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade, received the Heartland Prize, the American Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has contributed to such publications as The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The London Times. He and his work have been the subject of two documentaries — one produced by PBS and the other by the BBC.

He is the author of five poetry collections; his most recent is The Sin Eater: A Breviary — published by Paraclete Press, and in an Irish edition by Salmon Press. He spends a portion of each year at the ancestral cottage in West Clare, Ireland, that was the home of his great, great grandfather.

The following poem is from his collection, Still Life in Milford (Norton).


Such power in the naming of things—
To walk out in the greensward pronouncing
Goldfinch, lilac, oriental poppy
as if the shaping of the thing in sound
produced a pleasure like the sight of things
as if the housefinch winters in the mock-orange is
as tasty an intelligence to the lips and ears as
the sight of a small purple bird in December is
perched in a thicket of bald branches.
June you remember: the white blossoms, yellow
jackets, the fresh scent of heaven.

And other incarnations to be named:
nuthatch, magnolia, coreopsis, rose.
Surely this was God’s first gift of godliness—
that new index finger working over the globe
assigning from the noisy void those fresh,
orderly syllables. Ocean, garden,
helpmate, tree of knowledge.

Making came easy, creation
a breeze. But oh, that dizzy pleasure when
God said Eve and the woman looked heavenward.

Posted with permission of the poet.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.