Sunday, May 7, 2017

Death’s Birthday Gift to Me

I’ve been collaborating now for hours
with Death. I don’t mean metaphorically,
nor do I mean I’m trying to evoke the morning

I walked in to find my mother dead, her eyes
wide with unseeing and her mouth and chest
all clotted with the morphined jam I’d given

her some time before which as her final reflex
she’d spat up and which now stained her
night gown like fake cinematic blood,

nor do I mean when I ran to my brother’s
room when Jack his partner screamed his
name to call him back because the racking

rasp and rattle had just ceased inside his throat,
nor do I mean when I walked in to see my
father’s corpse’s eyebrows had been trimmed:

who’d done this misbegotten thing? My father’s
eyebrows were like Samson’s hair and it was
very very wrong to see they weren’t there,

no, it’s more to do with what these rhymes have
just come back to celebrate: Death and I have
been collaborating on a portrait of its face

which only could arrive to take its place upon
a piece of paper from what I’ve been able
to derive from all the live genetic bits I have

from Kettelhacks and Blakes and Hilgens, Fords
and Stonehouses and all the other surnames
which suggest the sources of whatever I may be,

the DNA affording my ability to draw Death’s eyes,
which enterprise I think I’ve managed to complete
quite well. In fact I can’t stop looking at these

mild open eyes: they are so interested; they
cast a quiet spell, as if they’ve lent me some
essential history. Death’s birthday gift to me.


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