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?