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Posts Tagged ‘death’

 

 

 

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.

            —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

 

 

And though the leaves blush golden and red

and though the sun cups my face like a hand

and though the chill air makes me catch my breath

 

the wind whispers, friend, remember your death.

And I feel so deeply, so wildly alive

as I climb the hill, slight burn in my thighs

 

but I cannot pretend I am deaf

as the wind whispers soft, remember your death.

The Roman generals had their slaves

 

whisper to them in their moments of greatness,

remember your death—even as the crowds cheered—

to help them remember be humble, be here.

 

And the wind whispers yes, whispers yes to me.

And reminds me to take each step gratefully.

Remember your death, it says. Live now.

 

And with every step, though I don’t know to whom,

I say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

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I decided to take

the invitation seriously.

Nothing changed.

I made breakfast.

Went to work.

Walked.

Made a date

to speak with a friend.

Swore at the magpie

that dive bombed

my head. Ate popcorn

for lunch.

Made plans

for four months from now.

Took vitamins.

Drank green tea.

Watered the seeds

planted yesterday.

Talked to the seeds,

encouraged them to grow.

Read a book, stopped

at the penultimate chapter.

Some things are better

left unfinished.

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There was a time when I’d pull his hair out

if he sat too close to me on the couch.

Now, I curl into his right side,

lean my head on his shoulder,

feel the trembling of his chest

as he weeps. How good it feels

to be close to him as we grieve.

How familiar, the shape of his head,

the heft of his hand as he reaches for mine.

How deeply right, this leaning

into sorrow together.

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for Jim Tipton

 

 

Margaret tells me

that while in a morphine stupor,

our friend told her I am dead.

I take the news of my death

rather well, I think,

remembering that just this morning

I ate blackberries

and pulled on my shoes

and drove a winding road.

But my friend, he is close

to death, his hand so tired

he signed only half his last name

in his book Margaret sends to me.

Reading it, he is in the room,

his voice still baritone and booming,

speaking of high desert honey and mesas

and cinnamon. I meet him there,

startled by how close he feels,

and when the book is over,

how enormous the emptiness.

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One for My Death

 

 

 

and when I die

let me bleed words

and let all of them

be thank you

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with thanks to Kyra

 

 

Minor and slow,

the Russian death song

on the cello

fills the room

with loss and beauty,

the two rubbing

together like notes

side by side on the scale

played at the same time.

I lay on the floor

beneath the great instrument

and feel the waves of it

as if they originate inside me—

play it again, I beg

the cellist, and then,

when it’s done, I beg her

again, play it again,

And she does. And she does,

the warm notes filling

any chill they find.

 

 

 

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One the Day After

 

 

 

on my lap

the emptiness refuses to purr—

it is all that I hear

 

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One Lament

 

 

 

In the ragged purr of the cat

in my lap I hear all the sun

she has yet to curl into,

all the mice she has yet

to chase, all the days

we don’t have left.

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Just Before Death Comes

 

 

You want to say,

She was old, she had a good life.

You want to say,

She was treated well.

You want to believe

that death can be tender,

a blessing, a dark and beautiful flower,

and maybe you do say these things,

and all the while

your heart sags, wails,

curls like a cat into itself,

longs to be held

in some great, warm arms

even as you hold out

your own unsteady arms

to hold what can never

be held.

 

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They are dead,

the sunflowers,

all petal-less and brown,

and I almost uprooted them

from the garden,

almost tossed aside

their tall brittle stalks,

their heavy bowed heads,

 

but see today how

the small gray birds

flutter amongst the dead

and dive for dark seeds,

how the garden air shimmers

with dozens of wings.

 

Patience, I think,

with whatever we believe

is lost—

so much beauty survives

even after a frost.

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