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The First Law of Thermodynamics

by W.J. Thornton

When it comes down to it
you and I will deal as we always do
in our own unique ways
with the vagaries of finality.
You will see my passing as natural
maybe a little karmic,
your punishment for bragging
that everything was going so well.
I'll complain that God is damn difficult,
alternate between the peace
which passes understanding
and the first law of thermodynamics -
nothing created, nothing destroyed.
People tell me their end desires
as if I had some inside track -
If I die, don't bring me back.
Walk away, just let me go.
Foolish pessimists, what do they know
who expect me to stay past my time.
A billboard flashes by - "Someday."
That's all it says, all it has to say.
You understand. No cosmic plan.
On good days, I romp with grandchildren,
on bad days, pick out funeral garb.
And when your time comes,
you won't go gently either.
We have to play the parts as written,
see them through to the end.
You play the part of the grieving widower,
and I will be the wind.

Wendy Thornton works at the University of Florida and has published in The Literary Review, MacGuffin, River Teeth and other journals. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, is President of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, and is a proud cancer survivor. This piece is dedicated to her husband who, she says, pulled her kicking and screaming through treatment.