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The Parting Cup
by Carole Bugge

He hands me the cup of his sorrow but I refuse to drink
     repelled by the dregs of a life indifferently lived
I crave enjoyment, renown, fame and fortune's smiles
     to live not by inches but by long and glorious miles
          emboldened to swim, not flounder, flail and sink

In my season of sweetness, I shun sorrow's ungainly sting
     my body's not done with celebrating, thrusting wildly at the world
          the caw of winter crows, the sparrow's song in spring
to revel in the sheen of fine cotton sheets and downy quilts, sensuality's gifts
          while before me stands a small, sad man with his present of regret, loss and guilt

Determined not to lose the chance to dream, to dance, to dare
     though Nature lent me his DNA, his blood, the flesh of his bones
          I steel myself to turn away and exorcise my ability to care
Sympathy shriveling in his presence, I long to leave him holding the cup alone
        Must I drink from this tarnished well, beats the tattoo in my head
              why not simply step outside and seize at splendor instead?

          But joy unshared is half a pleasure, and sadness divided half a measure
               Though pleasures may come by the dozen, agony is joy's shy cousin

And in the moment I prepare to turn and walk away
    my heart takes the lead, and I realize with some surprise
          as I reach for the cup
                    I have chosen to stay


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