You don’t want me to tell you about death,
but I’m going to tell you anyway:
it smells bad. It gets into your nostrils
and just sits there, stinking up everything.
It won’t go away. Death creeps up on you
when you’re least expecting it, even when
you can see it coming a mile away,
and rips your heart out through your throat and leaves
an empty place in your life you can’t fill
with memories or exercise or wads
of sterile gauze, and walks away laughing.
Or maybe just slips out under the door
and floats away like mist dissipating
before sunlight on an autumn morning.
Death minds its own business and everyone
else’s, too. Death does a little jig,
then lobs a grenade into your kitchen,
but it’s only a dud. What a joker,
you think, just before it explodes. Death feels
sorry for nothing and no one. Death feels
nothing at all. Death drives an SUV
with a husband and two kids in Gladwyne,
loses control, crosses the median
plows head-on into everyone sooner
or later, takes out a mortgage and then
skips town without paying a penny back.
Death takes a holiday, but not today.
Not tomorrow, either. Maybe next week,
but don’t bank on it. My mother-in-law
died twenty five years ago, but my wife
still cries out in her sleep for her mommy.
Sometimes my wife isn’t even asleep.