Snowflake death

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Just as dreams
      take many forms
            (infinite in variety)
so comes my death.
 
It may be sudden
      leaving little time
            to realize.
 
It may be sudden
      leaving little time
            to say goodbyes.
 
It may be sudden
      leaving little time
            to see loved ones’ cries.
 
More likely
      my death
            will linger
 
 
                  -S-L-O-W –
 
 
Lord Yama a guest
      who doesn’t just call
      in for a cuppa and a chat.
He chooses the best
      seat
            (my body),
and doesn’t state
      – THE-
            time of leaving.
 
Time in urgency
      a carrot dangling
            hastening my preparation:
                  -Will in order ?
                  – Phowa in order?
 
Time in urgency
      a panic button
            tripping, dripping distractions:
                  – did I leave the house tidy?
                  – fear/frustration
                  – concern for loved ones
                  – and what about that fly?
 
“What fly?” they ask.
      “THE fly” I say.
They stare blankly –
dementia nervous.
 
“But there’s always a fly”
      I add, but lack
energy
      for explanation.
 
I’m thinking Shunryu Suzuki’s
      fly (buzz, buzz),
I’m thinking Emily Dickinson’s
      fly (buzz, buzz):
 
                  “With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
                  Between the light – and me –
                  And then the Windows failed – and then
                  I could not see to see –“
 
If only I can
            remain
present
                        at the end,
                  (the fly a gift to me).
 
But as my inward
      smile
            burns,
they tense
      at the sight of
            snowflake death.
 
Yes!
      A snowflake death
            (no one the same).
Nothing
      known, except that
            it will –
happen.
 
But I’m not
      Dorian Gray;
I’d have it no
      other way.
 
So I’ll look for the clear light,
      yet settle for
            showing others
 
            death ‘s alright!
 
 
Poem written as a pre-exercise for my Chaplaincy course. Emily Dickinson quote comes from: “I Heard a Fly buzz—when I died” in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Lord Yama = death, and Phowa = Buddhist practice at time of death.

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