Death’s Home

One day, once upon a time, we met

each other in the house of Death.

However, Death, apparently, was not at home.

We seemed to understand that the house

of Death is rarely far away from wherever

we may find ourselves, but on this occasion,

Death was no farther from us than

a little house at the far end of a lane of

leafless maple trees, a little cottage

almost hidden in an leafless orchard.

Light flooded into every room

but every room seemed empty.

We couldn’t find a saucer or a toothbrush,

not a bathtub, nor a frying pan, not a curtain,

nor a light bulb, not one stick of furniture,

nor a spoon, nor a clock,

not a single roll of paper towels.

 

I held you in my arms and moved to kiss

your neck, but you said, “No.”

I kissed you anyway, and you said,

“Never stop.” We pressed together

into each other and only at that moment

felt the presence in the room of the

one who owned the house.

Death was block-like and metallic, as gray

as clouds in January and as

rigid and immobile as a

sculpture of the pharaoh

Tutankhamen seated on his throne,

except it had the unmistakable

appearance of a filing cabinet with

the top drawer opened, and—

how could we forget?–it also

wore gray wing-tip shoes.

Death, there are so many things

about you I don’t understand. For

example: why don’t you allow

yourself a more stylish coat of

paint? Would basic black be a cliché?

And those ridiculous shoes. Who

shines them if not you? And most

of all, why did you allow the two

of us into your home so I

might gently tease you now?

Forgive us, Mr. Death, we were so

absorbed in discovering each

other we forgot you came to

terminate our lives.

Then suddenly the house’s roof

and walls evaporated and we

found ourselves in rain and

darkness, pressed together

like a pair of leaves swept out

of the orchard and down

the lane, lost in a storm

with a thousand other leaves.

When light eventually returned I tried

to find Death’s home and find the

one who kissed me, but after searching

many years I’ve managed to find neither.

Perhaps one day, once upon a time,

another wind will blow us back into

the house of Death and we two leaves

will at last be ready to be pressed

together in a folder in the cabinet.

One final question, Mr. Death:

when you close that drawer on

what had been our lives would

you kindly shut it on us gently?

© 2010 J.M. Keating

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