Grace Paley

(11 December 1922 – 22 August 2007 / Bronx, New York)

This Life


My friend tells me
a man in my house jumped off the roof
the roof is the eighth floor of this building
the roof door was locked how did he manage?
his girlfriend had said goodbye I'm leaving
he was 22
his mother and father were hurrying
at that very moment
from upstate to help him move out of Brooklyn
they had heard about the girl

the people who usually look up
and call jump jump did not see him
the life savers who creep around the back staircases
and reach the roof's edge just in time
never got their chance he meant it he wanted
only one person to know

did he imagine that she would grieve
all her young life away tell everyone
this boy I kind of lived with last year
he died on account of me

my friend was not interested he said you're always
inventing stuff what I want to know how could he throw
his life away how do these guys do it
just like that and here I am fighting this
ferocious insane vindictive virus day and
night day and night and for what? for only
one thing this life this life

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about this poem (This Life by Grace Paley )

  • Rookie - 182 Points Karen Sinclair (10/25/2012 4:02:00 AM)

    This is provocation for the grey matter, the writers imagination covers the bare facts but comes to the conclusion, life is precious.... and what a line this is (ferocious insane vindictive virus day) great! (Report) Reply

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