Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Make a poem from this

to bed early, can’t stay awake

in early morning
in that place halfway to sleep but still awake
where visions leak from dreamtime into waking life—
as if that boundary was ever so solid

a doglike beast, grey lean animal with long terrifying jaws
pauses, almost docilely, in my door, as I lay abed

I pity as well as fear—all those extra teeth—
as it pads in and lays down next to my bed
sighs and falls too into sleep
as if it were my faithful dog

what rough beast, it's hour come round at last
has entered my chambered heart

surrounded by death again
pulled back down into some black bucket I only just began to climb out of

This morning I heard a family friend had died; it wasn’t unexpected, he'd been ill for some time, like my own Dad’s dying a year and more ago, but still shocking when it actually happens. This man, also a doctor, had become Dad’s best friend at the end of both their lives, when they were retired; they met through Rotary and soon became nigh inseparable.

A few days earlier, I heard the news that a good friend of mine a decade ago, who I’d lost touch with, had died at the same time I was coming home to take care of Dad. If I’d known, I could have said goodbye. Or at least gotten back in touch. They were all good friends who I'd been thinking about a lot lately, wanting to reconnect. Now it’s not exactly too late, but it’s late.

Now another, a poet friend, a wise experienced survivor, is home to die, entering his last days in this body, cared for by local hospice. His words run like blood luck from both hands. His shell begins to empty. I follow after, gathering words and songs strewn in his wake like fuel for an invisible fire.

this fine sunny morning
it’s always going to be this way, isn't it
friends and family falling by the roadside
till you die yourself, isn’t it?

doesn’t make the rest of life very pleasant
something to look forward to
now on from now

Is this hard part of life, filled with death, loss, and suffering, ever going to be over? It’s no wonder you turn more towards the Buddhist aspect your practice. No wonder.

not the first beast to appear and enter in
not the first to rise from some shadowed crevasse
arrive and take up lodging, change
as it happens to as it will become

what rough beasts live in us
waiting to be born



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