Low light

January 5th, 2012

There seems to be a lot of death around here, lately.  A friend’s father died.  Another friend’s father is dying.  A dear woman I knew at work passed away last week.  Two other friends, a married couple, are dealing with cancer.  Either this is a statistically random cluster, or the world is coming to an end.  In honor of either possibility, I have been thinking about a poem I wrote a long time ago:

I have beheld the end of a life,
the blue eyes turning to the ceiling
and closing, and the strange orange hue that
then suffused the cooling skin,

and a life’s beginning I’ve also beheld,
the mewling, stick-limbed lump of tenderness,
eyes clamped shut, trading the womb for
its exhausted mother’s arms.

It’s odd to hold them both within me,
two pale lights at the ends of a stick
that do not balance: the one cannot
be weighed with the other or cancel it out.

Some console themselves with rhythms,
tell the children the gracefully falling
leaves make mulch for what will rise,
as if the steady beat of days,

of seasons, generation and decay
makes white noise and drowns the silence.
Others flood the quiet betimes with
droning of the eternal.  Others

watch tv.  In the body’s
sealed envelope, we carry
from lips forever shrunken open
to the inarticulate young

a sediment of sentiment.
It gives them heft, to bear their growth.
Devoted as robins to their hatchlings,
we pass it down the straining gullet;

unlike them, we’re no more empty
for giving our young what we had in us.
Passing on is not unburdening.  When
my father died, he handed me

a weight no one could bring into
this world except by leaving it.
My first born bleated her little welcome in
that same building’s other wing.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2012 at 12:01 am and is filed under Poems. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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