Night Shift ~ for those who wait with the dying

 

Night Shift

(for those who wait with the dying)

 

I want to hold back Death:

Impossible of course,

But every time I try,

Standing in the way,

Arms outstretched

As if to halt

A bolting horse,

It passes through

As if I, not it,

Were insubstantial mist.

And I feel a touch

Across my face

Of trailing cobwebs

Or frosted feathers

Stiff with ice.

 

The Comfort of Ashes

I wrote this poem the day after Ash Wednesday a few years ago and it’s now a part of an Easter cycle of poems.

The Comfort of Ashes
 
There’s something clean about ashes;
Rubbish reduced to uniform powder.
No heaps of trash to hurt the eye,
No rotting corpse to hurt the heart.
Clean
Simple
Impermanent.
A gust of wind, a wash of water
And it’s gone for good:
Dissolved
Dispersed
Disappeared.
It does not disturb me that I am such dust;
What the fire cannot touch
Never can be touched
By hand or flame or even eyes.
Let then the residual ash be blown
On the wind and be gone,
Returned to the kind earth
Whose bones gave me form
And let my soul go home unhindered.