While reading Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder I was struck by the phrase “death’s infrastructure.” My thoughts turned to the ongoing news and debates about health care and this short poem emerged.
Does Death have an infrastructure? Or do we
read about the end of life as we know it
in the morning newspaper, fresh as a starched
shirt until Nell in the nursing home
looking through smudged reading glasses
for the daily crossword skims one more
sensational headline that promises Truth
but whose blurring words already smell of fish?
She visited on Deacon Dog’s departing day.
I imagined his sweet old spirit brushed by her great wings
Her message was bitter
The merciful and wild grace of God–
Perched quiet and watchful
on a dead tree branch.
Fierce beauty. Untamed.
She was there
and then gone.
So was Deacon Dog, it seems.
His fourteen years on this good ground
as all of life is.
Her presence was a
reminder, though, of gifts
offered into life’s rawest moments–
the high lonesome sound of her voice
touching grief with mystery.
Sunlight slipping off silken threads.
Strands spiraling out from antennaed arachnids.
Radiant wings awakening.
Sometimes scarcely visible. Sometimes broken open.
Bound. Set free.
Webs and cocoons. Cocoons and webs.
Life and death. Death and life.
The tangled and mysterious warp and weft
of earthly existence.
We spin. We weave.
crisscrossing space and time.
Unknowable gifts of an unknowable Creator.