All these weeks of washing hands
and staring through the glass,
the frisson of a trip to Coles.
I’m thinking now I much preferred
that older cornucopia,
its long ‘embarrassment of riches’,
my reassuring family tree
ramifying and receding
through centuries of endings.
I’m talking here of illness only.
Let’s not do misadventure yet,
just the grey of waiting rooms,
their soft, predictable susurrus
back before the age of masks,
rooms that led to other troubles,
the C-Scan like a pizza oven,
the wanderings of fibre optics.
One thinks of Shakespeare’s line on cowards
but isn’t that a bit severe?
Surely they were only worried
by the bluntness of an axe.
Death by inattention then?
Now there’s a likely causa
and not so terribly unlike
a sudden tumble down the stairs,
a hip too slow to heal and then
the kindness of pneumonia.
One hears, almost with envy,
of people well past eighty,
teeth all brushed and lying neatly,
whose dreams will simply fade to black.
Or is it white these days?
I think of God from time to time,
be-whiskered and old-fashioned,
our long, unfinished conversations,
his smile at my dispersing atoms.
There’s not, it seems, a great deal written
concerning death’s undoubted pleasures.
Keats perhaps. And Plath, of course.
Already now, I see the way
my aged imagination,
albeit stiffened and arthritic,
will still find something left to work on:
the month, the week, the hour, the instant,
that final revelation.