On the Dying

by Sam Rasnake

               — for Jeanette Johnson

Who will watch that easing down and down into the pillow, an oxygen machine's all too throaty rumble as soundtrack for more than a year — giving us moment to moment in hospice, at best, the heave and heave — watching for the slightest change of an eyebrow, a shoulder's tilt, the jerk of the head — that is talk now, that is life. A wren on the screen outside the window could be a sign as the stonecutter shapes a piece, blade and water giving just the right fit for the wall that will hold the flowers we can only imagine. When he's done, he walks out of view to give the wall a final touch.

The cool blue and olive is her clock. Not the lung, not the jugular, and not the still chest, but the tiniest flicker underneath the chin is the final say. And we watch. And we watch until stillness is everything. Until the great and terrible sigh of silence is our embrace. With joy even — with a blend of guilt, of course.

On the news there's a rhyme. “You don't make music for immortality. You make music for the moment, for capturing the sheer joy of being alive on planet earth.” 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3 — Ray Manzarek is dead.

           — originally published in Red Fez