|Man and The Moon, 1990, Andrew Wyeth|
Death comes in threes
she says solemnly as if somehow
mere utterance of these words
will cause the Sword of Damocles
to hang teetering, teeter over the head
of some soon-to-be-dead unfortunate.
We do Last Offices;
lay him on the whitest purest sheet.
First stage (Clinical),
turn him and he groans
as last air expels from lungs
and watch horrified
as blood spills in rivers from his lips.
Can you now understand my pain?
his dead body asks.
We lay him prostrate
as if in reverence to his God
and cleanse all that is corporeal,
gently pull his legs apart
and place padded pants.
Oh the indignity of death
his dead body oozes.
Second stage (Aesthetics),
he now supine gazes
with unseeing eyes
as we again wash away his life,
trim brows and beard,
anoint him with essential oils,
dress him in his Sunday best.
I am at rest now his dead body whispers,
I am ready and we usher in the family.
My best friend wants me to lay her out
I say as we both drained,
clutch at warming coffee cup.
Y’know she says
on my way into work today
there were magpies, four strutting confident.
Four for death.
Do you think…?
Just as I mean to tell her
she is stupid I see crow
and catch my breath as
he tap tap taps upon the window.
Caw, caw, caw(pse) he advises
as he views me with his beady eyes
and one not prone to superstition,
nevertheless, a chill shivers down my spine.
The above is the result of Tess's prompt of the naked man and is also shared at the Poetry Pantry – hope you like it!