Posthumous Pardon

Gia Arora
2 min readApr 14, 2024
A bookshelf with hardbound books.
Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash

There is a canvas, a square canvas,
Half the size of his bedroom door,
And right there, top left corner,
A yellow blob called the sun.
He tugs at his mother’s sleeve, asks if yellow means
(But people have tried eating yellow paint before —
I don’t think it helps.)

Good afternoon, sir, could you put on the news?
Did you know, sir, that none of them saw
Her genius while she was around to see it too?
Who, sir? Why, no one, sir. You see,
He drew differently, she wrote differently, he loved
Who, sir? Why, everyone, sir.

There is a bonfire on the other side of town.
They are burning books today, books about
Burning books.
He wrote diaries, you see, you can buy them.
How much for one soul? The price tag says
Four dollars.
They treat you differently afterwards, sir.
Later, they — but no, sir, later is a different time.

First there is the sin.
Second there is the punishment.
Third there is the salvation.
They are the God they preach about, sir.

Do you know, sir, what came before, sir?
He died in prison holding an unfinished sonnet.
She scribbled out a letter and tore it to shreds.
Stephen Dedalus coughed alone in an infirmary bed.
Stephen Dedalus watched the flames and dreamed of being dead.

Tell me, is it later yet?

Good afternoon, sir, please turn off the light,
The dark soil is cool and black.
They put bulletproof glass around his grave, sir —
It was corroding through with kisses.
The flowers all wilted, sir, but fear not,
For new ones come in every day.
I’ll tell you a joke now, sir, please laugh with me:
They put the ‘mortal’ in ‘immortality’.
They are in the Louvre, sir, and in the
⠀ ⠀ chapel, and in the
⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ pulpit of the home they sought to leave behind.

Eating yellow paint never helped anyone, sir,
Not until after they died.