“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”—Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

    no one can stand my tears,
    not those tears that have been
    freely flowing in the past weeks

    from what? others ask.
    from the agonies of my
    own aging, from my undue anxiety
    over the coming loss
    the impending void
    when someone you’ve cherished
    for decades and decades
    a someone cherished by many
    moves to her ultimate leave-taking
    and conjoins with the Light

    death is liberator,
    the others are quick
    in their unsolicited consoling,
    they say no one
    has rehearsed her death
    more decidedly
    than she

    already the hidden history
    of her body is surfacing
    despite that still
    unblemished face,
    those lidded eyes
    that crinkle in
    full-throttle glee

    what is this spirit’s vessel
    called the body?
    why does it carry
    the curse of pain from time of birth
    to the formation of conscience
    to the sinning and hurting
    to the acts of atonement
    to the rebirth long long after?

    show your dark shadow,
    i want to shout at her,
    show us a snarl, a growl
    a meanness that reassures
    you are still
    of us
    with us

    can you not halt your glide
    towards immortality,
    your hurrying towards
    that infinity where emerald
    seas and pink sunsets meet?

    give me, please,
    give us this one more day,
    of your and our
    combined clowning

    “well, maybe next year?”


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