Yesterday I had a naturally weepy day. At first I didn’t know why, but I realized it had to do with a dream I’d had about the dead body of someone I knew recently killed in a car accident. One of these days I’m going to post some lighter entries, but yesterday I was feeling in touch with the risk that life is, how it can end at any time, how we live on that edge, how temporary it all is.
In November of last year I had a brain hemorrhage and could have died. Luckily, I didn’t, but lately death has seemed closer. One person’s near-death experience is just that, while another’s edges over into death itself. The distinction seems so tiny and which side we’re on such a matter of chance. And it’s difficult to hold on to valuable perspective that the proximity gives, perhaps because we tend to flee in fear of the unknown.
My friend Don Stap wrote a poem that speaks to this. It was originally published in The Northwest Review Winter 2010. Thanks to the author for permission to post here.
Not easy to not go back, to remain
in the moment of crisis, that clarity:
my crooked smile, my slurred speech.
Not easy. I’m not going back,
I said over and over one day on the porch,
tears and all, and then wrote it
down to read each morning as if
the ineluctable years between long ago
and now were less or more than the two
clocks I keep in my room so
from any angle I can see how many minutes
are mine–as if it matters that sometimes
I turn their small faces to the wall.
And yesterday, when I was away
but had not left it behind,
I sat on the embankment by the water,
a quiet place, mares’ tails in the high blue,
and when I wasn’t looking for anything
there in front of me was a honeybee,
small golden blimp, floating from tickweed
to tickweed, one flower to the next
with no apparent pattern, no method,
and I wondered how,
in the constancy of his randomness,
how did he know where he had been
and where he had yet to go?