“End of Days” by Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy


Almost always with cats, the end
comes creeping over the two of you—
she stops eating, his back legs
no longer support him, she leans
to your hand and purrs but cannot
rise—sometimes a whimper of pain
although they are stoic. They see
death clearly through hooded eyes.

Then there is the long weepy
trip to the vets, the carrier no
longer necessary, the last time
in your lap. The injection is quick.
Simply they stop breathing
in your arms. You bring them
home to bury in the flower garden,
planting a bush over a deep grave.

That is how I would like to cease,
held in a lover’s arms and quickly
fading to black like an old fashioned
movie embrace. I hate the white
silent scream of hospitals, the whine
of pain like air conditioning’s hum.
I want to click the off switch.
And if I can no longer choose

I want someone who loves me
there, not a doctor with forty patients
and his morality to keep me sort
of, kind of alive or sort of undead.
Why are we more rational and kinder
to our pets than with ourselves or our
parents? Death is not the worst
thing; denying it can be.

from Rattle #30, Winter 2008


Marge Piercy: “I have been writing full-time since 1968. That’s what I do. I’ve published seventeen novels, seventeen books of poetry, a memoir, edited one anthology of poetry and written two non-fiction books. I give poetry readings frequently (over 500 so far) in several countries and give speeches, lectures and workshops. I write for a living and I write because it’s my passion and I’d rather do it than anything else.”

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