TITLE: On the Death of a Lady
By Bill Shurkey
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You were once mine and I loved you.
Now that you’re gone I mourn. I mourn
your youth that was before my time, when
you were in your prime, fresh and alive.
I mourn it more than my own misplaced youth.
Others envied you once because you had it all.
Your beauty was unmatched; your grace sufficient.
A wealthy, gracious matron, you could have had
anyone yet you chose none. I often wondered
why you never married. They said you valued
your independence above all else. Still your
suitors courted you. Ah, those were the days!
You clung to your beauty well into middle age.
If only you could have stopped the hands of time,
and gone back, stayed middle-aged forever. If only
you had retained your grace, your beauty.
If only … things would be different now. You,
my sweet lady, would still be alive. But no one
can ever go back. Not even you. “If onlys”
are lost opportunities of the past and the past
is not meant to be recaptured – only preserved
for the future. You failed miserably to do that.
Could that be your one, your only regret?
Now you are dead. Gone like so many others
before you. They said it was cancer, that it
ate you away slowly from within. The last time I
really looked at you, you were a weathered barn
in a forgotten field. Old. Cracked. Withered.
Your beauty was quite gone. You were bedridden.
Tired and lonely. Stripped of your elegance.
Who could have known? Who would have thought you,
you of all ladies would have aged so badly? Ended
life so helpless? So friendless? Suitors stopped
calling long ago. Their envy had turned to hate.
Many were glad when they heard of your death.
Thought you were too pompous, too overbearing.
But oh, they didn’t know you like I did! You just lost
your grace, that’s all. And when you lose your grace
you lose everything . Yes, I will miss you, my love,
for many reasons, and I will mourn. I will mourn
if for no other reason but this one: I am an American,
sweet lady, an American…and you were once my home.
“For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat,
but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof
falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth:
so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”
(James 1:11, KJV)
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