Friday, October 22, 2010

Straight Talk from Fox



Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment's miracle. Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.



In an earlier poem, Self-Portrait, Mary shows a bit of herself. Here too is a self-portrait. I wonder if in so many of her poems when I have thought she made a boundary between human and nonhuman, (which I railed against) maybe it wasn't herself she was talking about, but us. She's a foxy one. This poem isn't her dilemma, but ours. We are the voles cowering in our dark awareness that death is out there somewhere. If we just curl up enough and constrict our hearts enough, perhaps danger and risk will not sniff us out.

Though we may be small prey items in the scheme of existence, I believe we are also predators. Grateful and joyful, even in the face of death.

My spouse reads this poem at the bed side of gravely ill and dying people from his congregation. I don't know if these people are thankful or if joy or peace graces their end days. As they lay dying, do they uncurl and invite in death, open up their hearts to the stories of their lives? Find gratitude? Of course, Mary's poem asks, what will I do when the time comes? I don't know, but what about this very next moment as I look to the day. May I embrace those teeth-whacking hits that come my way, and dance with both acceptance and pouncing back.

Do you find it possible to welcome death in the midst of so much life?

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