Now you are put to rest


for Jean Franco

(March 15, 1907- April 15, 1992)


T.Wignesan I

They opened his abdomen


found what they were not looking for


though half-expected


to see

polyps enormous cancerous mush


in lieu of


and the rest that had given out on him


They said: if we had known we wouldn't have torn into his



to see


even the sample test told us as much


but we did it for him


he so wanted it done


now we merely have to wait and see


just how long it would take him to conk out


without solid food to pass


from his newly-grafted conduite



He was completely in their hands


and hung on to their lips their every nod


their plans for him


and the use he had for their

apprentis chirugiens sorciers



He kept his anger for his friends family telephone operators


the aide-soignantes


those he could intimidate with his age


for he didn't know what they knew


they wouldn't feel the hurt the slight


for long


the rankling umbrage sans riposte



He didn't mind all the inconvenience


the constant waking to pass water


the secluded room without tv


without his wife to take it out on


without the means to exude


his usual referee's contempt of rules



In their hands he was the meek inept thing


pleading with his eyes


his whole body bent to their gaze


of wonder


of why he would so question going


now then or even a little later







You had said when I kidded you

After all I'm not going to be far away

Now you are put to rest

In a place dug and slabbed for you alone

As if you were not going to rest for good

with all the others

It is a place to a side in the pebble-strewn sidewalk

against the wall

your feet to the east

all the other feet to the south

As of a general standing to a salute from his army


There was no sight of you

The golden chocolatish-pink of your casket

made more glittering the cross

I couldn't guess if you would have wanted the Church's ornament

then the feeling of being out-of-place

thoughts of you in a cloud


We talked in suppressed tones

about you of you

trying to be polite and succeeding among uneasy fellows

here and there some unwanted details slipped in through nervousness

yet none felt your hand tremble on the racket


You were the master of the court

as now you mastered your going by the low sleek slate-grained marble

in sharply polished angular correctness

amidst shy upright cypresses and neatly cut passageways of chipped stone


We sprinkled your tomb with Church water

Neither rain nor snow you remember could keep you from finishing your game

Already as we turned in a column the voices now louder in the distance

They were arranging the roughly hewn stone slabs

before the marble thickened your bed


You may at last be at rest

with no one to challenge you to a test of strength

your referee's whistle holding its un-disputable silence


You came with the spring

Now you go in cheery spring

Your sollicitous voice still lingers in our courts

You knew us all by name and style at play

long before we met under your critical gaze


T.Wignesan 1992

April 21, 1992

(Jean Franco, born in Morocco of Spanish stock, was an Income Tax Inspector and in his spare-time an International Soccer Referee for France. We often played tennis at the Tennis Club in Fresnes-94.)

[from the collection: back to background material, 1993]