Voluntas Vitae

by Christine Adams Beckett

The meaning of life? It lies
in the discovery of one’s own
bequest, a pearl in a shell,
an ability, a benefaction:

the willingness to refine it,
cultured, every shimmery layer
of opalescent nacre, held with
care, simply to be given away

with prudence to a worthy
steward, held indefinitely,
on permanent loan until passed
to another necklace, more precious

than Mikimoto. To be retained by
one, lacking recipient, is to grieve
like a lover with unrequited affections,
like a traveler without destination.