Waiting for the Same Thing

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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We're all waiting
for the same thing,
the old monk told me
on a tour of the abbey
the day after the monks
buried my brother
in the cemetery down
by the creek.

At some abbeys, he said,
monks make fruit cakes,
cheese, jams or fudge.
Every abbey, he said,
has to sell something
while we're waiting
for the same thing.

I know you and your brother
weren't close but he probably
told you we've been making
pine caskets for 70 years.
He was an artist with a chisel.
Never a word out of him.
Just shavings of wood
flying around him like moths.
We have no one to replace him.

And business is improving.
I don't know how we'll keep up.
It's no longer just monks
at the other abbeys
buying our caskets.
Suddenly civilians
like the simple design,
the plain box made out of pine,
no puffery, nothing fancy.
One man drove down here,
bought two and fit both
in the trunk of his Lexus.
Imagine that: our caskets
in the trunk of a Lexus.

The monks who make fruit cakes
and other good food buy caskets
from us and we buy what they make
but we don't need fruit cakes
the way they need our caskets.
Monks are getting older.
The jams and fudge, however,
and the sharp cheddar cheese
are a pleasant distraction
while we're waiting
for the same thing.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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