The last thing the dying do is pee themselves.
My paramedic brother explained this
to me at my aunt’s funeral. Everyone, he said,
Gandhi, Marilyn Monroe, Batman, Catwoman,
even James Dean, who died driving his silver
Spyder, which he nicknamed “Little Bastard.”
Even Jesus, I asked? Well, he said, maybe not Jesus.
I was ten and scared, almost eleven
and constantly blushing, and now the world
was wetly new. If someone died on screen,
I pictured a puddle. For expiring queens,
I added enough piss to lick survivors.
No one was off the hook. That final death
Romeo and Juliet, the Zeffirelli version—
I pictured a dampish blush in the prince’s crotch.
All the great war scenes, ten thousand bayoneted
bodies—they smelled of blood and smoke.
Also urine. For weeks, my world was soaked
in briny Hallelujahs, an ode to spills—
all undies of the dead soaked, his and hers,
pants and skirts, shorts and slinky gowns.
Despite our noble architecture, wet would out,
water would wend its briny way. James Bond,
the Beatles, the life guard I was crushing on,
prickles of hair under her arms, all would trickle
into the next life, their thighs bathed
in the motherly stuff we once swam in,
all skin christened in the end, all soiled,
all almost sacramental. Thank you gravity,
thank you dews distilling. We drank
and we simmered, and this broth snaked
our fissures and crannied our nooks.
Wolfman Jack, Nadia Comaneci, all three
glorious sisters on the Brady Bunch, John Wayne,
me. Each time we peed was a dress rehearsal.
First the dry whoosh of spirit leaving the body,
which the ancients weighed in whispers,
in the wing beat of a gnat, then the dam
would break. Or at least leak. Exodus
in the end, water and salt, water and silt,
all brackish molecules 3.5 billion years young,
all seeping back to the sea, goodbye President
Nixon, goodbye Julia Child, no one to trace
that final journey but angels and lapping dogs.
from Rattle #72, Summer 2021
Lance Larsen: “In a poem over 20 years old, I describe floating in a swimming pool late at night: ‘I kept the lights off to blur my edges.’ In childhood, the demarcation between self and world often felt smudgy, as if I was on the verge of dissolving into something beautiful or terrifying. I was never entirely clear which. How to center yourself on this darkly turning planet? When I try to rewind the clock via poetry, that strange opaqueness, that lovely permeability often returns. And mystery, once again, is everywhere.” ( web)