The Poet Faces Death

As a Worship Associate in my church, I occasionally assist in services, like a high-level version of an altar boy from my Catholic boyhood. That means I get to do some reading and talking instead of leaving it all to the priest. One function is a brief personal reflection tied to the presenter’s sermon theme. The subject on this occasion was suffering and mortality, for which I used this achingly lovely poem by Susan Deborah King as grist for my comments which follow in the next post. If you prefer to listen to the poem and reflection, click on the tab below the poem.

“As Death Approaches” by Susan Deborah King, from One-Breasted Woman

© 2007 Holy Cow! Press  Reprinted with permission.


As Death Approaches

I can’t believe I’m laughing!

I’d have sworn I’d be

shaking or sniveling.

And I sure didn’t expect

a limousine.

I’ve never been in a limousine.

No biggy.

I’ve had better than fame.

Who needs the pressure?

As for fortune, I’m filthy.

That’s why I’m laughing.

I’ve had so much love:

the giving, the getting.

It’s shameful.

It’s embarrassing.

And it’s too late.

No one can take it away!

And I’ve had the pain

to help me appreciate it.

Thank God for the pain!

Easy for me to say

now that I’m going!

But no, seriously,

the kicks in the teeth,

the gut, the rugs

pulled out, slammed doors,

setbacks, snubs.

Without them, I’d

never have recognized

Love, bedraggled,

plain eyes shining,

happy to see me.

Do I want more?

Of course I want more!

I always want more

of everything: money, hugs,

lovemaking, art, butter,

woods, flowers, the sea,

M&Ms, chips, tops, bottoms,

trips — I did give up drinking —

time, sure, and yes,

I’d like to see

my grandchildren,

if there are any.

I’d like to see my books

but more has never

been good for me anyway.

Enough — that’s what I’ve

always needed to learn,

and is there a better way?

So this laughter

I had to work up to

through so many tears,

it just keeps coming

like a fountain, a spray.

Let it light on you

refreshment, benediction,

as I’m driven away.

2 comments to The Poet Faces Death

  • Chris Marquez  says:

    Wow, Andy, this is awesome. Loved the broadcast where I could hear you speaking! Love you big bro!

  • marybeth fenton  says:

    Lovely choice; a keeper for when the end of days approach. Thanks for sharing! I'd 'tweet' or 'like' but I do neither (though I do do 'over the fence', literally).

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