Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: If You Should Die Before I Do

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Patricia Ranzoni, from Bucksport, has been writing and publishing poetry about people and places in rural Maine for many years. She explains that today’s poem followed the “shocking generosity of a distinguished elder,” offered “at a time when health troubles loomed.” That generosity taught her, she says, to listen to her heart “for brave ways to say what feels inexpressible.”

If You Should Die Before I Do by Patricia Ranzoni

I’ll come wherever you’re praised.
          Sit or stand in the back, quietly,
As I came whenever I came
          among those you’ve loved. As any
grateful heart knows not how
          to thank a source for song. At least
I knew you enough
          to comprehend gave. If you should die first,
I’ll come bare-footed when you
          are alone. Don’t worry, nothing tasteless
to clutter your grave,
          only my dust and petals and pollens
from my beds to sift into yours,
          and in this way I might come to hold you,
with the others,
          perhaps forever.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2000 by Patricia Ranzoni. Reprinted from Settling, Puckerbrush Press, 2000, by permission of Patricia Ranzoni. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.