(for Bill T. Jones)
It begins with a circle:
turning on the Wheel of living,
walking out spirals on the floor:
I know I’m going to see so many die
before I die:
Why don’t I feel: “Why me?”
What are these gates
we all dance through?
This is an initiation: into what?
Who will receive me? Into death?
All the others who have gone before,
and I alone remain: remain. Alone.
Who will catch me? As I fall?
Alone: together: let me be—alone.
To learn: how not to be afraid:
of losing all control.
Of losing myself.
Who do you love: if not yourself?
The world is full of light and blues:
the inspiration to get up, to quit this job
that is wasting my time: and live.
Every moment left: is precious.
What am I guilty of? Why
do I even feel this guilt?:
Why did they all die:
and not me?
What do I fear? Dying alone:
when I die, surrounded by beloved ghosts.
What do I love? The light, the air,
the land, this body:
this incarnated world,
inhabited by such wonders, and every kind
of aliveness, even the ones we can’t know.
Still I am here.
Here I am . . . still.
Still here—and laughing.
Here I am: still: being still,
here—in this place.
Still being. Here.
Being here. Still.
At peace with stillness.
Here. Here, now:
It goes on, another circle,
a tangent arced from the life of this boy,
still being with what he strives for:
What I hate most in myself
is my willingness to give away my strength.
My time: my life.
As if it meant so little to me.
I hate my lazy willingness to believe
I have all the time left in the world:
When you know you’re going to die,
you can do anything.
Why can’t I?
Why must I see them all die first?
Why must I be the last one?—
I’ve seen it: I know it:
Either the last one on the battlements,
fighting the alien horde
to give my family time to escape;
or, alone in bed, the last one,
surrounded by the ghosts
of everyone I’ve ever loved.
I have Seen it. I Know it.
I thought many times that I must break
under this burden: but I have not.
It would so much easier to break.
Maybe—just maybe: I cannot be broken.
Maybe that is:
I’m still here.
Here I am, still being: still.
A witness: a tether.
The one whose task and sorrow and joy it is
to put up the chairs, and turn out the lights,
and close the door behind him:
at the end of the world.