To The Person Who Will Be The Last To Speak My Name

DAVID ROSENTHAL

“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The
second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment,
sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”
—David Eagleman, “Metamorphosis,” Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

You’ll come across it in some database–
an arcane list, an ancient family tree–
a ghost town on the edge of cyberspace,
where signs decay and landmarks atrophy.

Already several decades will have passed
since someone said it, thinking of a “him,”
and how he lived. Now you will be the last
before my name becomes a homonym.

I have no grand instructions to convey –
your breathy, puzzled mumble will be fine.
We all have ways to say the things we say,
and I’m content to have your way be mine.

Take care as much or little as you will,
just hold the silence after till I’m still.


David Rosenthal lives in Berkeley, California, and teaches in the Oakland
public schools. His poems have appeared in Rattle, Birmingham Poetry
Review, Measure, Raintown Review, and others. The author of The Wild
Geography of Misplaced Things (White Violet, 2013), he has been a Pushcart
Nominee and a Nemerov Sonnet Award finalist.