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Party And Poetry In Ecclesiastes

Often dinner parties are arranged to create a happy atmosphere, with foods and entertainment intended to make the guests happy. But usually it comes out just the opposite way, and only seldom does a good party result. Either there are gloomy and solemn faces present, or something else upsets all the arrangements, especially when there is such deliberation and planning about how much fun it will be.

-Martin Luther, commentary on Ecclesiastes (Quoted in Blackwell’s remarkable Ecclesiastes Through the Centuries)

Making Up a Room For Grief

by Joshua Gibbs

Lest I be surprised and over

thrown as though by a family of five

arriving suddenly before dawn announcing

a twelve year residency in my tiny

house

I have decided to begin making up a room

for Grief I do not know

when he will come but when he does

I want him to be comfortable

I have made up a bed for Grief beside

a warm gorgeous yellow lamp

so he can read his terrible books late into the night, laughing—

I have eaten less sumptuously but not given to the poor

because I do not want them to eat Grief’s food

I have slept less, saving those spared hours

like pennies in a jar for Grief so he can sleep till noon

if he pleases I purchased with my tithes a robe

I do not wear but save hanged

on a peg behind Grief’s door so he need not embarrass himself

when he rises wandering naked through my home

I have given away my sharpest knives gun and poison

lest Grief get any big ideas

when the evening comes I expect him to knock

although I know he owes me no such courtesy

He is a grown man for God’s sake and the house

belongs to him anyway

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