“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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