Sunday, October 19, 2014

No Solicitors

What to do with life’s uncertainties and the unexpected news telegrammed to your door?
Still trying to figure that one out. But playing music and writing poetry has worked reasonably well to help me move through the shock and sadness and occasional deep grief. It doesn’t solve it nor cover it, but it helps me bear it and keep moving. The news of various peers passing these past couple of weeks—a neighbor, colleague, cousin, my wife’s old friend—inspired this first draft poem:

NO SOLICITORS

When I was a child, Death was nothing but a character in a fairy tale. 

When I first met mortality, he became a messenger
            living in a far-off country,
                        an ocean between us.

The years piled up and he crept closer,
   one day walking off the boat with his passport stamped.

This past week, four people I knew— all around my age or a few short years older—
got a tap on their shoulder from Mr. Death
and followed him out,
 of this world.

Alongside the sadness is the fear—
Death, who always felt so far away, is on my block
going house to house
                         knocking on doors
                                    coming closer.

Will my “No Solicitors” sign deter him?

Will I be out when he calls?

Will I come home to a note?

“Sorry I missed you. Will come back later.”

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