Great Fear of Death

I cannot believe my body won’t mind being cremated, and then ashes, scattered or not,
Cannot believe my body won’t feel it, won’t have a mind and a con-
  ciousness to go with it.
And I wonder whether, on my deathbed, I’ll think about that; I hope I don’t.
I imagine I’ll be in a hospital, having what’s known as a peaceful, painless dying;
Everyone doing their best for my body — morphine or whatever, maybe massaging
And loving, even if none of them are my loved or loving ones.
I hope I don’t think for even a smidgen that all that very best for my body will, once
  dying has become death, turn into the very worst;
I cannot believe the sheet over my face won’t suffocate,
Nor the wheeling of me out of the room won’t frighten
Nor the rest of it
The rest of it;
Again, I hope, on my deathbed, I forget about all that.
I’m not forgetting now but I hope I forget later Hope I forget latest
My very latest of all.


Mousetraps Circa 1940’s

Sometimes my parents heard mice scurrying about in the attic.
They set traps, the old-fashioned kind — the kind that snap on their tails.
Whenever one of them worked, my father would put the whole kit-‘n’-caboodle in a
paper bag and head for the fields.
Once he took me with him. I watched him open the bag and then the trap.
The mouse scampered out among the wildflowers.
“’Bye, little mousie,” my father crooned. “Bye bye, mousie.”
The straight line that the mouse scampered along got longer and longer.
I guessed it knew where it was going.


Ample, firm, pudgy, dramatic
and visible from any distance.
They’re the only bracelets I wear.

Lately, though, there’s been a problem:
They keep touching some part of my arm.
They make that part feel annoyed.

And if I raise my arm,
keep it vertical,
they touch that entire cross-section.

If I lower my arm (upside-down vertical)
they sit on my hand like water.
They won’t leave my hand alone.

They make my arm tired.
They’ll give it gangrene.
There’s no good position for that arm.

But that’s only lately.
Am I getting too old for bangles?
Do I have to start wearing those twiddly, weak, weightless, insipid, museum-type

The kind you can barely see?
The kind you can barely touch?


Photography courtesy of Saskia Hatvany