He feels like he hadn’t noticed he was dying.
All this bad news: a plague, a disease, a virus.
Hospitalized, quarantined, forced into hibernation.
Down to the ‘essentials’, bedded down, on life support.
Fixated on the cellphone, the laptop, the ‘news’.
How are the vital signs, the stats, the numbers?
Imprisoned in this prism, this hall of mirrors and lies.
There’s been flowers of course, new input into the garden.
Seeds become seedlings, pot-plants flowering, harvesting.
Surrounded by beauty, he dreams lazily on this deathbed.
He’s not really allowed to see anyone, but they come,
Keeping their distance, respectful silences and smalltalk.
His body aches, strains to hear the doctors in the hall.
Whispering, conspiring, working hard on his behalf.
He shouldn’t bother them, but he grows anxious listening.
‘Infection rate, chance of dying, no resuscitation order.’
Seems like there’s no coming back to life.
Friends at a distance, no hugs, no touch, a mask on.
Apparently there’s new orders and visit restrictions.
The roads are emptying, it’s every man for himself.
Some refute, they mock, drinking in the halls of their friends.
But at Calvary Hospital the chimney at the morgue is smoking.
He gasps for breath but his lungs heave and burn.
He calls for the doctor, why am I abandoned!
But the doctor is busy, the nurse comes, holds his hand.
In the distance the crows crowd and cackle on the hill.
He is pinned, machines beep, then there is no beeping.
The nurses take his body into the garden.
They wrap him in long cloths after his body is washed.
The light lingers over the body of Christ.
He is lifted and welcomed into the place
Where new seeds lay asleep in the garden.
I step outside and look to my left,
And suddenly I see seven of the ducks,
All ‘ducked down low’ and sitting
On the slope, their heads all the same way.
‘Which one of you is the mother?’ I wonder,
‘Or is she even one among you?’
I’m struck by the fact that I couldn’t tell,
All seven sitting quietly looking the same,
Their heads all pointing the same way.
All I know is I’m worried ’bout the babies,
There were 8, then 6, then 5, and now 4.
And I haven’t seen any this morning.
So yeah, which one is the mother in mourning?
What’s a mourning duck look like?
Is she cemented in grief by 6 of her kin?
Siting up there on the sloping lawn,
Chastened by the night that brought this dawn,
Their beaks all pointing the same way.
Used to be mine
Before my landlady
Moved the chickenhut.
Now she comes on down
Like I imagine she fancies
She’s rolling down a tunnel
Long and smooth, past Tony’s
Twice a day to let the chickens run.
Is a sloping square
Where I fill up on nature
Out by the firepit and duckbath.
But I gotta work on it ’cause my friend
She comes on down and I greet her warmly
And we talk together of ducklings and firewood
But really she wants to tell me the music’s too loud.
And then there’s meditating.
When one wants to meditate
One tells oneself to meditate.
‘Meditate!’ one says to oneself.
Upon which one meditates
And wonders why one speaks to oneself
In such a manner.
The wonderer, the ‘Meditate!-or’,
The meditator beyond them both.
Why wouldn’t the wise man
Want to enter again a life?
Finding out what is allowable
In this new domain, this realm,
This future, this ‘otherwhere’ and
‘Otherwhen’, this next chapter.
As a child, what society around him
Would smile benignly as he would
Brag, assert, demonstrate, argue,
Test, hypothesize, explore and discover.
Til his former will was tempered
In the love of this evolved world,
The child, seemingly and evidently,
A denizen of former assumptions.
In the pleasure of our
Lies the capacity
Like a snake
For us to hide like it was a taboo.
And turning away
We act this out
And mask our expression with assertion.
The right to explore our taboos.
Like a child wondering what is allowable.
Would that we witness ourselves
And be witnessed in our joys.
Getting up early
Placing the chair where
I can witness for once (out of bed)
“The Arrival of the Ducks”
(followed by the pair of doves).
Scattering the cat biscuits
Far and wide like
I am sowing seed in the dawning light
When arrives Frodo the Cat
Who softly, with surprise, grazes.
Jesus of my aspiration
What soft wisdom did you possess?
In long-haired dark-skinned manhood
What conviction did your body bear thus?
Through you what faith of ages
Were we able to perceive?
What infinity and eternity
In endless eyes and breath?
When you wore the soft cloths
Of garment that touched your feet,
How tall was the soft-folded hood
That touched your gentle forehead?
What eyes shadowed in their fire
Burned with infinite mystery beneath?