Not people die but worlds die in them
On your brave, calm journey
out of life
the objects in the room have lost
the water jug, the wafer biscuits,
the artificial orchid that I watered.
Your oxygen machine keeps time
with loyal breath and beat:
strong, soft, soft, soft …
Within the hospice ward we are
all back inside the womb again;
a mother’s heart and lungs
are counting our slow time.
At first we hear the notes inside our heads,
the hummed harmonics of a distant choir,
a sonic quirk
behind the automated beat,
the four slow notes
that count your gentle monody.
The door’s ajar, the air outside is warm,
the flimsy curtain billows
to the one melodic line,
our breaths honed now
to a single dot in time,
the precious cargo that is human life.
Four arcane notes
hardly audible: the minor third,
and back, the sighing note,
hard to tell apart from thought.
Nearly a century
of weathering the ups and downs.
Is this arrival or departure?
Sarah Day’s most recent collection is Towards Light (Puncher & Wattmann, 2018).