When Death Comes Close – sample poems

In My Parents’ Grave

One morning,

when the aloneness of gathering winter pulled me inside,

I felt something ask me

to lie in the grave with my parents;

a request strange yet deep

that had me draw the curtains

and turn off the phone.

I was bidden to be shrouded, not boxed,

so I sought my long, hooded cape,

remnant of a desert retreat.

All livingness abandoned me.

I was no longer in my row of cottages

tucked between friendly neighbours

on a busy road.

With heightened senses and full awareness

I wrapped my own body in preparation for death

and asked my parents

could I lie between their long-dead bodies.

Time vanished. 

Peace came:

the peace of a body sunk heavily to the floorboards,

the peace of a mind oddly still,

the peace of a soul met with itself

in some vast sphere of bliss.

Slowly life called me back.

Slower still my body rose

and rejoined its need

for breath and movement,

warmth and water.

For two full days I travelled

between the touch of death

and mundane being.

But though I could not stay in death’s bright shadow,

there still remains her feather-swipe

upon my body.



Eulogy for Victor

Sometimes a man emerges on the world

different, challenging,

full of his own importance,

so sure of some things that

he rattles our cages,

yet somehow sad and incomplete within himself.

He may be a Winston Churchill.

He may be a recluse.

He may attract

high praise or

broken windows.

Only some strange twist of

place and time

seems to make the difference.

We may love or hate such a man

but seldom do we feel indifferent.

He splits open our security.

He batters on the door of all things proper.

He upsets our apple carts

yet in so doing

gives us something

by which to define ourselves,

something uncomfortably scratchy

to rub against,

something growthful and wonderful

if we can but bear

the friction.