It was great fun to be back in person, in Philadelphia, reading poetry aloud. Prepping for the performance made me aware, though, that I have no current obsession to mull upon; that may be why I have not been writing many poems of late. However, I recently felt inspired by Lesley Wheeler’s blog post including some prompts from poets. Prompts! Of course. Those are ways into writing when writing has not supplied the writer with her own ways into writing.
Therefore, I’ll close another year of my blog with a piece I drafted using Lesley’s conjunctions prompt. What resulted from the free-write surprised me, which is a good thing (it’s fun when I surprise myself, though this gets a bit dark toward the close–but dark contains interesting objects). And many thanks to Lesley and to the other poets whose prompts she shared. It’s likely I will keep working with them until my next poetic preoccupation.
So I’m tired of hearing people start their sentences with “So” on podcasts and the radio and TV, “so” a verbal tic, a word instead of “um,” which serves the same purpose but admits, more humbly, of uncertainty, which says I am pausing to gather my thoughts before speaking; whereas “So” sets up an explanation leading to opinion or argument, or so it seems to me.
So I’m sitting on my back porch even though it is late December, clouds gathering over bare trees. I hear woodpeckers deepening holes in trees, a rat-a-tat drill, and white-breasted nuthatches loud along the woodlot, and I ponder emerald ash borers and climate change and how to handle human aging in a capitalist society.
So what I wonder is “Am I afraid?” Some questions possess a looming quality, I guess this is one such. In my wicker chair, in my own backyard, no. Not afraid. The mood’s serene, no tightness in my chest no racing heart, not even facing death–as we all must do, though most of us refuse. Where are you going with this, Writer?
So all I’m saying is, I have fears about the future yes but not about dying, because dying I will face alone. Even when loved ones can be beside us, we are not an us when death comes. Each dies to their ego alone, interior to the world, most alone at death no matter who surrounds us.
So why, then, do I volunteer for hospice work, where the goal is not only to alleviate some of the pain but also to keep people from dying unaccompanied? My reasons are complicated, people are complicated. So let me just say that having been present when human beings die, that passage may not necessarily be a lonely one. But it is accomplished alone.