A good death, The day you heard your father died & Toothlessness
[ poetry - may 09 ]
A good death
Honouring the principle
that the honouring of life
is the only principle worth pursuing,
I laid out your body, every brick and slate
pulled from the bloody mess of guts
dappled with light. I worked to lengthen
the line of days allotted, I climbed
the rich scaffolding of your solid life.
I worked like a nun, tucked back my habit
so as to see you better. Well enough
to disappear into detail - chalk falling
from a pillar - the golden hinge at one
extreme of life - the burning candle
at the imperceivable, endlessly
The day you heard your father died
You must use it now, your heart,
use the wheat and the seed of it,
and the ears and the crop and the beating of it.
Listen to him, your heart,
before you take a step, before you write a line.
Live through that heart, his veins, his
If you can, pull him up through your throat,
take a minute to kiss and recollect
the look you got when you were first given it.
Take hold of your heart like a parachute cord.
Today you and he must move just right
as you've dreamed of every day. Always
heads up, backs long and straight, like mice in corn.
Perhaps the breast was disappeared too
I stayed orally fixated, my fingers never out of my mouth.
Each tooth was touched a hundred times a day,
sprung soldiers, each one weak. I had dreams I'd lose my teeth.
Tar beasties, sucked down, swirled inside my mouth's
rough darkness, harsh as orange peel - I dreamed of a kiss
so vast that we'd fuse like fish, enter the prehistory of kisses,
tongues larger than night or water - My husband, we grew
to be elderly, and each yellow peg fell into our shared
sink, the blood palpable taste, moist time. Now, mouth
wet as pulp or bog, the tongue lives alone - save you -
pressing down sometimes in the darkness, beneath my touch.
Still alive, my mouth - Sometimes I think I hear it moan.