After


Death has you now in its embrace, disease is in your bones.
A swift and painless passing is your one and only hope.
Your mind is all but rotten through, few memories remain.
“What will be next?” is all you hear, resounding in your brain.
 
And when your heart has beat its last—
your final breath escapes—
there is no light to welcome you; no clouds or pearly gates.
The devil isn’t waiting wreathed in fire and despair.
The angels aren’t singing, and the gods don’t seem to care.
 
No knowledge do you gain from this, no higher plane of peace.
You do not reawaken in another man or beast.
Nor is your mind and all its thoughts erased for evermore.
The truth is nothing changes; you are as you were before.
 
Yet now there is no movement of the blood inside your veins.
Your eyes are blind, your ears are deaf, your body feels no pain.
But though your senses all are dead—
at least that’s what it seems—
awareness somehow enters like a leak inside a dream.
 
You feel their busy hands as they prepare you for the pall.
Their words you hear, their tears you see—
you count them as they fall.
And then the cold surrounds you as they place you in the earth.
You feel the weight upon you when your grave is filled with dirt.
 
It isn’t that you’re sleeping, no—or that you lie awake.
Those words have lost their meaning in this dark and lonely place.
You come to forget everything of names and who you were.
Even language decomposes, leaving thoughts bereft of words.
 
At last the final grain of you is washed away by time;
a wave returning to the sea, receding with the tide.
And somehow still you linger here, though all of you is gone.
You dance the dance of ages, you go on
and on.
and on.