It could begin long before
the diagnosis announced
the time for farewell had come,
but the awareness
deepened and clarified
as death (as love) drew nearer. I watched
experienced sifting, in thought,
shifting, in language,
lifting, in dreams of sweet reunions
beyond, a light-filled world…I held
their new mysteries and old regrets
in my watching and listening.
They saw angels, parents, long-dead partners
spoke, laughed, lingered with visions
I could not see.
The liminal glowed, golden and
Everywhere. I watched
My job was simply presence, not
an anchor in this world, but often
a final, gentle harbor of peace
before they said yes
to the sweetly tinkling lanyards, the
voices of beloveds
beckoning their buoyancy
on waves of love (as death)
that would carry them off.
Death (as love)
befriended them, or tried to,
sang beneath their windows,
beside their beds,
holding them, embracing,
sharing their breath as it slowed…
She infused their psyches
caught their words and tangled them,
unraveled them, then wove them again
into tapestries of symbol and metaphor.
I would ask:
How is it for you? What do you see?
They chose words they’d rarely used,
or hadn’t intended but meant;
how deeply, unconsciously,
intuition can reach in and excavate
I am going on a journey,
packing my suitcase;
Where is my ticket? My taxi? My train?
I must wear my best dress; Joe’s coming
to dance with me; I must go
to the garden, it’s harvest time;
I’m leaving soon…I watched
And their elemental essence would ebb,
would almost shimmer away, blood pooling
around the heart, breath slowing,
spirit slipping out and rising
free of gravity, then gone
with love (as death).
I watched and listened.
The air, filled with
the scent of parting:
gratitude, forgiveness, regret,
a terrible and fierce
absence that, once felt,
Death is love; it is handmaiden to life.
And now we sit
at the bedside of the world,
aware, long before the diagnosis
the time for farewell
has come for many things.
Let us watch together,
surrender what must die,
for the language
death (as love) will weave,
symbols and metaphors,
a light-filled world
Death (as love) is near and,