“Death, Again” by Mark Gibbons

Mark Gibbons


for Howard “Bud” Meyers (1932-2003)

And why not?
Isn’t it what we know best
and least, that fear,
the bottom of it all,
where each year we seem to burn
more bones than we bury?

Why does it really matter to us
how others dispose of our remains, the stiff
lifeless clay God “all mighty” won’t claim?
I guess it’s just our need
to grasp for the last of ourselves,
finish the job, hold onto our image
of being in control—reaching beyond
the grave to close the door.

We wind up being stuffed inside
of those who knew us, those left behind:
shelved and cataloged, new local myths
drug out to entertain the crowd—and remind
that our stories sustain us like fire,
like water and air. When the body dies
we talk about spirit and wonder
what happens after the lights go out.

All we know exists under the sky
walking the Earth. Here
things die, blossom, grow, attach,
reproduce (as often as they can!) and die
again and again. How many times,
how many cycles, how many stories
have we breathed?

I know your spirit is real.
It lives inside of me,
and that’s enough, for now.
Death is filling me up, and I’ll be damned
if I don’t like it. Generous to a fault,
he feeds us continually,
and I want to be loaded . . .
when the sneaky bastard comes for me.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004

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