William S. Webster
SO IN CONCLUSION
I like endings, especially when Haggard
stops singing about getting the blues in prison,
or how poor Mamma had such a tough life,
she died for love of Daddy and now
her son's locked up in the big house. I like
the flourish in the finale of a ballet
when the corps pirouettes in unison
then lands croisé, timpani and brassy
cymbals going off like fireworks.
By that time I'm ready
for a cigarette and martini. I like it
when the suspense is over. There are
no more questions, the ending
has come and you're left with a bit
of irony to chew on. Sometimes
it's bitter, but you get used to it.
Like in Hemingway. I like last calls,
lights out, the melody that tapers
the way a beautiful woman drives off
from the gasoline pump, the way azaleas
rot on the bush, the way the heart stops
breaking. I like how my students
duck out of their three-point arguments,
bringing them to a screeching halt with:
"So in conclusion, . . . ." Three words
as if to say, Thank God almighty, it's over!
It's the last snack, the final cracker,
the after-party sweep-up, the after-sex cigarette,
the black smudge of chewing gum on the sidewalk,
a door closing, tires whining far away, the tired
old period at the end of a declarative sentence. The way
a geography teacher stops the spinning globe
with the touch of his thumb.
William S. Webster is an Associate Professor of English at South Georgia College in Douglas, GA.