The Old Songs 
Rolly Kent

At the end of her life, my sister searched
for meaning. She found instead a large white
egg made of sugar with pink stripes
piped around it, and at one end a peephole
through which she saw a beautiful lake,
and behind that, in the distance, a tall mountain.

Although she was ill and not able
to walk far, she went inside the egg
and followed the path above the water.

How pleasant to amble across such a grand
place in nature! In no time at all she reached
the big blue mountain with its tall blue door.
She opened it—a short hallway led right into
a room in the sky where a large squirrel
was waiting. “Ah, glad you made it,” he said.

“What is this,” my sister asked, “the threshold
of some kind of rebirth? Because if it is,
that’s not what I came for.” “Well, what were you
expecting,” he said, a bemused look on his face,
“Albert Schweitzer?” “Yes!” my sister said.

“How did you know?” As a girl she had
practically worshipped the doctor; in her eyes
he stood above all others—if she could not
find meaning, then she wanted such a man to
admire. “But—is all I get you?” she asked.

The squirrel smiled. “Oh I hear that quite often
these days. People have such strange ideas
about life, as if they had some kind of
claim on it. Shall we?” the squirrel said.
My sister slipped her arm in his,
and as they left he sang to her in a fine
baritone the old songs of sorrow’s end.

Rolly Kent’s new book of poems, Phone Ringing in a Dark House, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in late October 2023.


©2023 Volume Poetry
Join our mailing list:

Follow us on instagram.
Submit your work to Volume:

Site design by Nick Fogarty