I’m going to write a poem about life & death, I said, but mostly about death. But you are always doing that, said D, your last poem was about death. The poem before that one was about death. In fact if you looked at all your writing, especially the poems, you would find pretty near nothing but death. A lot of the time you seem to be laughing about it, but that doesnt fool anyone.
Yes, but this time I am going to make it a real poem about life but mainly death, I’ll grant you that. None of that lacy Rilke death, none of that ho ho Vonnegut death. I mean real death or I should say real thinking about death. For instance? asked D. Well, for instance, take the way you feel like how awful it would be when you cant put an arm around a perfect waist, & there is that swelling out of hip upon which it is natural to rest an arm. How wonderful, and how terrible not to be able to look forward to that ever again.
You see? said D, you announce that you are going to say something straight about death, and there you are talking about life, as far as I can see. That’s just my point, I said. Death will be horrible because it won’t have anything of life in it, no matter how many fancypants graduate students have told me that you can’t really submerge yourself in life unless you are fully conscious of your death. They have all been reading Albert Camus lately, & they are so much wiser than I am.
I suppose you are using all of the things I have been saying as part of your poem, said D. Of course, I said. You are to this poem as a swelling out of lovely hip is to an arm that has snaked around a dear waist.
Just then I realized that I had made D up in my imagination, & now there was no D at all, & I had to forget about writing another poem about life & death, but especially about death, especially about death from a straight point of view, because M came into the room while I was typing & had a persistent gripe about C, & no matter how interrupted I managed to make myself look on the chair in front of the keyboard, M just kept on & on till the poem had followed D to some place we will never find the way to.
Copyright © 2004 by George Bowering