Once, at the end of a book club discussion held in the library of a women’s prison, the women (who are addressed as “offenders” on the prison P.A. system, as in, “Offenders, cell check in fifteen minutes”) took turns asking me personal questions from a list they had prepared. I remember only one of them: “If you had to choose one word to complete the sentence ‘She was ____’ on your tombstone, what would you want it to be?” “Kind,” I said. “That I was kind.”
The Mower, by Philip Larkin
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
a hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
is always the same; we should be careful
of each other, we should be kind
while there is still time.
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