Do you think it’s possible that every poem you write
is really the same poem, even when you think
you’re writing about something else? When I look at what I’ve written,
hundreds of poems, I see death lurking:
washing and singing prayers over my friend’s still body
cutting my mother’s yellowed concrete toenails when she no longer knew who I was
the water snake eating a bullfrog butt first
chanting names of the deceased at Auschwitz
young black men and women killed by those assigned to keep the peace
my own wrinkles, crepe paper skin, and fear of dementia
Do you, too, love this life so much that you want
to learn to love that part also? That mysterious
passing from everything you know into all you do not know?
I mean, maybe it’s nothing at all or maybe it’s goddesses and angels
and everyone sings and everyone gets along. Then maybe
that would get boring and we would have to introduce the idea
of death (to the dead).
Do you, too, pretend death won’t happen, tell your friend
how sure you are that she’s going to get well even though
she has stage four metastatic breast cancer?
What do you propose we do about this thing that will claim
us all? Can we learn to say
I don’t mean right now though it may be now ,
And I don’t want it to hurt but,
it might hurt. Or to be unjust but
it might be unjust,
If you were promised that a
wouldn’t open a door to make it come sooner
than it would have otherwise, would you say
No pressure, but think about it.
I’m really trying to say
Wilderness Sarchild is an expressive arts therapist, poet, and playwright. Her play, Wrinkles, the Musical will be produced in 2017. She has won awards for poetry and play-writing from Veterans for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Chicago’s Side Project Theatre, and the WOMR National Poetry Competition.