Just before winter, before your birthday would have come, before you married your new girlfriend, and before we had the chance to have one of our long talks again, you died. It happened suddenly on a beautiful day when all was well in your front yard. You had just had coffee with your mother. You went out perhaps to run some errands, but I imagine you went out just to admire the flag of Vermont flying at your door. Then you went back inside and crashed to the floor on the porch. I can imagine it well, the heart attack. I have been your nurse, friend, and even your live-in girlfriend for a while. I was happy to be there to save you when I could but I didn’t want to be there when you crashed to the floor and never got up. I didn’t want to be in death’s closing web.
You saved me. I thanked you many times for helping me in so many ways to avoid peril and get on my feet after a crash in my life. But you were not so keen on living as to feel the relief of my aid when you were sick. I think mostly you were soothed by helping me and thankful for my companionship as I was of yours. We were friends. You were my only friend. My trust had been too injured to have more.
There has been a lot of death lately, before the election, before 2013 when the world is supposed to end according to legend, and before I change into a butterfly. Spirits have drifted out of birds, mice, husbands, grandmothers, fathers and best friends. I have seen death come, waited, hoped against it, and wept for it.
The last struggle is something very small yet unpreventable. I feel even in imagining your crashing fall, when your eyes told nothing that I am learning how to die. As I fall asleep and as I wake up I think of you and my heart flutters, palpitates softly, and I feel that thin veil between life and death and know how simple it is to take that last breathe. I see my bird’s wing caught in the film between this life and the next and know that a little bit of thrashing, just a little bit will convince a body so well worn to give up the ghost.
Some people don’t know how to go to sleep, but anything can be learned once you get the feel for it. With body and imagination you can work your way towards knowing how to dream and how to vaporize into thin air.
Not that I want to. I have certain reasons to live and my body is not well worn enough. Even so at night at the edges of morning I feel the flutter of the curtain in-between.
It’s November and the calendar is thin. Half-light spreads wide a dusk stripe over early evening time. The blind man keeps his white cane in the air, two feet above the even playing field that is half-sight for all. It is his liberty to walk with as little or as much confidence as other men do in half-dark.
The moon is a white sliver of fingernail not clipped off. One can see the whole round planet, most of it hiding in shadow except the crack of light that seems to slip from behind a carelessly closed door. Another measure of equality, this carelessly closed door, this transparent action of the moon. We can see it all, the dark side and the light.
In a quiet small town where the shops are all closed, a petite woman crosses the street to reach her oversized truck. She opens the door, steps up on the side rail and holding a handle high up on the inside she pulls her weight in. Silent, cool, and secure she shuts the door. She’s the small bright light inside driving it all. Again an ironic equality pervades the mood of these last days of 2012.