Death, Dearie

Only Bread, Only light


Red berries on a dead branch, how Ezra Pound!

No one will ever accuse you of humor who hasn’t seen your poems.

The first time I laughed at you, I mean really laughed, I was 17 and dying, as per our mutual plan, and I hiked up my hospital gown, tottered to a window, and far below, in the twilight, three Boy Scouts lowered the flag with solemnity, for that was their voluntary assignment, taking down the Stars and Stripes on the wide dark lawn of the psychiatric unit, and they had no idea how foolish they looked, honoring you in their earnest overgrown schoolboy uniforms and I knew you were laughing.

My room mate was an old man from the Ukraine who spoke no English. He spent a lot of time weeping in bed. Sometimes he’d address me with urgency, and raise his gown and show me his scars. Of course I assumed you were laughing. Assumption is your surname. Windows yellow in winter are your icons. Behind them, the sick, both old and young, and water glasses, pencils, worn rag dolls, timorous mantle clocks.

“The meaning of life is that it stops.” (Franz Kafka)

Do you feel powerless? Stopping life over and over suggests fatigue if nothing else.

You have so little my friend. The row boat, filled with water, rots on the sand.

Oh I saw your humor alright. Feathers floating there.



Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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