Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Death Should Be Intimate
A Poem by Kerry Shawn Keys

Death Should Be Intimate

Death should be intimate.
It should be something like this –
sitting in a rocking chair,
mistaking the wings of an angel
for the swish of the rocker.

It should be sitting down for dinner,
the white napkins, the soup of bread and garlic,
a soup spoon approaching the mouth,
and then suddenly falling forward,
the wine glass spilling on your lap
at the moment of death, and the glass
breaking on the floor the moment after.

It should be in bed, again the color white,
this time the white sheets and the pillow case,
dawn bringing its alba song of love through the window,
with the sun barely visible behind pink clouds,
and then you see your body beneath,
curled up in sleep like a fetus on the bed,
and you are floating above, slowly, slowly
in the thermal, in shafts of sunlight.

And finally, after dying so many times,
death might be a knife, hidden, intangible
in such a shaft of sunlight, silver, invisible,
a secret knife, not yours, not the kitchen’s,
not the beloved’s, but belonging to someone like Abraham,
a servant of a god, a myth, or belonging to no one,
self-contained in its intimacy, eternal, waiting for nothing,
and, yes, your soul, which is all that is left of you,
will pass through it on its way.

I am featuring a few poems by poets at Druskininkai. Kerry Shawn Keys is a marvellous poet who should be much better known than he is. He has spent the latter part of his life in Lithuania and has often performed his poems at the Poetry Fall and indeed all over the world. He has published a good many books too, too many to list here. His life story would make a most wonderful memoir, should he ever write it down. I am delighted to be able to print this relatively new poem by him.

This poem, a contemplation of the moment of dying, moves clearly and powerfully, almost like a film, from image to image through to that final knife which is a point of re-entry to the world presented at the start of the poem - the world of soul and symbol. There is nothing cluttered or melodramatic about the poem. It accepts the moment of death the way it would accept anything else in the universe as something simply itself, yet more. Its language is natural, its sense of rhythm and cadence authoritative without special effects. It is masterly.

More to come from others.

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