Now you are put to rest

Now you are put to rest

by T. Wignesan

              for Jean Franco*
                      (March 15, 1907- April 15, 1992)


They opened his abdomen
found what they were not looking for
though half-expected
                                   to see
polyps enormous cancerous mush
in lieu of
and the rest that had given out on him

They said: if we had known we wouldn't have torn into his
          to see
even the sample test told us as much
but we did it for him
he so wanted it done
now we merely have to wait and see

just how long it would take him to conk out

without solid food to pass
from his newly-grafted conduite

He was completely in their hands
and hung on to their lips their every nod
their plans for him
and the use he had for their
apprentis chirugiens sorciers

He kept his anger for his friends family telephone operators
the aide-soignantes
those he could intimidate with his age
for he didn't know what they knew
they wouldn't feel the hurt the slight
for long
the rankling umbrage sans riposte

He didn't mind all the inconvenience
the constant waking to pass water
the secluded room without tv
without his wife to take it out on
without the means to exude
his usual referee's contempt of rules

In their hands he was the meek inept thing
pleading with his eyes
his whole body bent to their gaze
            of wonder
       of why he would so question going
now then or even a little later


You had said when I kidded you
'After all I'm not going to be far away'
Now you are put to rest
In a place dug and slabbed for you alone

As if you were not going to rest for good
with all the others
It is a place to a side in the pebble-strewn sidewalk
                                                           against the wall
your feet to the east
                    all the other feet to the south
As of a general standing to a salute from his army

There was no sight of you
The golden chocolatish-pink of your casket
        made more glittering the cross
I couldn't guess if you would have wanted the Church's ornament

then the feeling of being out-of-place
thoughts of you in a cloud

We talked in suppressed tones
             about you                     of you
trying to be polite and succeeding among uneasy fellows
here and there some unwanted details slipped in through nervousness
yet none felt your hand tremble on the racket

You were the master of the court
as now you mastered your going by the low sleek slate-grained marble
in sharply polished angular correctness
amidst shy upright cypresses and neatly cut passageways of chipped        

We sprinkled your tomb with Church water
Neither rain nor snow you remember could keep you from finishing    
                                                                                   your game
Already as we turned in a column the voices now louder in the distance
They were arranging the roughly hewn stone slabs
before the marble thickened your bed

You may at last be at rest
with no one to challenge you to a test of strength
your referee's whistle holding its un-disputable silence

You came with the spring
Now you go in cheery spring
Your sollicitous voice still lingers in our courts
You knew us all by name and style at play
                long before we met under your critical gaze

(*Jean Franco, born in Morocco of Spanish stock, was an Income Tax Inspector and in his spare-time an International Soccer Referee for France. We often played tennis at the Tennis Club in Fresnes-94.)


T. Wignesan



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