Finistère

by Christine Adams Beckett

The end of the earth is
what the French call their
Westernmost départment,
the tip of their beloved ground,

Where one can stand at
the edge of a rocky cliff
over rough seas, contemplating
a course to nowhere, the unknown,

With a stone in one’s pocket,
heavy, burdensome, worn smooth
with the distal phalanx of the
thumb in painful recollections,

And educational regret, or
the converse: a buoy of gratitude
and a truer understanding of
what we share, all of us.

My father described industriousness
as performing a task as if there was
no tomorrow, eagerly, frantically,
without restraint:

As one should perform every task,
as if encountered by the end of the earth,
touching foreheads with a loved one
over a deathbed, clutching hands.

If only such grace existed yesterday
And hindsight be wisdom, we could whisper
thanks and let many tomorrows be the product
of the hard-earned ground behind us.