Nancy Wing

Facts of Death

Into his perfect death
my father grows,
shrinking smaller
into his narrow frame
of bones.
Within the crucible of dying
his blood turns slowly
into clear translucence
until at last,
self embalmed and cleaned,
he meets the living flame;

The junkyard
of his fragile bones
curling back
into his last becoming.

These are the facts
of death.

What’s left for us
the living
is a ceremony
of emptiness.

On the green sward
of a sloping hill
below the birdsong trees
we come
to bury ashes
and an urn.

Above the mound of earth
covering his absence
a small white butterfly
hovers fluttering its wings
and rises.

A bird sings on.

Somewhere in Between

Grandfather is dying in his room
I cannot see him until he is dead
I am eight or nine years old
I hear them say he broke his hip
long after, my mother would
keep his sterling silver cigar case
with its dent where he fell

When we go to see him, he is lying on a
long narrow bed. His pale fingers
hold a rose on his chest.
His nails are clean and neat. He is dead.
His hair is soft and silky. His beard is
very trim around his mouth. Where did
he go? I only knew him a little when he
gave me life savers from an inlaid box
and in my nervousness I swallowed
one whole and it hurt until it melted.

about the author


13.1 (Fall 2008)   The 2River View