So I'm minding my own business,
And I read in the online Times
(Which I should leave alone, were I
Truly minding my own business)
That Frank Schaeffer, son of Francis,
Has a book out, Sex, Mom, and God,
Christian myths about his parents.
Well. It's 1979
Again, and I am a junior
In evangelical prep school,
Driven to Manhattan to see
A movie about some Swiss guy,
A minister with a goatee
Living on a sort of commune,
But Christian, preaching about things.
I don't remember everything,
But I do recall my teachers
Asking me, solicitously,
What I thought about what I'd seen.
I told them I believed it all,
Everything he said, the whole thing,
Which was true, as far as I knew,
And seemed satisfying to them.
The other main thing I recall
Was that I learned a big new word
That day, euthanasia, which meant
Atheists killing old people,
And this peculiar memory
Hitches a ride on my thought stream
Until it reaches the triptych
Of my maternal ancestry,
My mother's mother, mouth agape,
In a New England nursing home,
Completely unaware of me,
My father's mother, mouth agape,
In longterm care facilities,
Sleeping through various visits,
And my mother, who died last week,
Propped up for her last photograph,
Mouth agape, beside my sister
And my niece holding her newborn.
Hooray! Four generations caught
In one snapshot before too late.
A vacant presence in a home,
Ghastly, surrounded by offspring,
Not "in the Presence of her Lord,"
As my sister put it, until
The body itself at last died,
As God and selection designed.