Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cross Over
for Michael Eldon
& Keva Bethel
[R.I.P.]


i.
Wafer of Sun

sliver of life he lived, has lived
has been living
since slipping into a coma
six long years ago

even normally, life is but slim
but unconscious upon your back, in bed
for years, tissue thin indeed

what of the gamut of emotions
was he able to engage in

he and Pope John Paul II fell ill
both admitted to hospital one same day

the pope, dead- the pope died long ago
bishop Eldon held on

to what though was he holding on
with what was he holding on
upon what was he, all this time
hanging onto, hanging on by

reduced to what he had been reduced to
what further reduction to allow him
to be declared dead

was it the pillow out from under his head
or the mattress removed from his bed

necessary to let life give way to death
to permit this exchange to occur
entirely naturally

induced by any hand, it would be murder
coup de grace, mercy killing
for which Dr. Jack Kevorkian
is at present serving time in prison

must just wait for life to give way to-
to make room for its sister, death
or is death the husband or wife of life

bishop Eldon finally crossed over
passed through that membrane
ever so thin, but how long it was- it took
to break through

there upon that boarder, upon the shore,
pondering, do I go on living or do I die
decided to die this morning finally

his diocese, for 6 years,
waiting to mourn, it can now
waiting to bury him, it can now

awaiting his release from his body, fully
that attachment, that pin, to be pulled out
to liberate and to release him

new access to him, new access to us
upon his back in bed, he was of limited use to us
he will be of unlimited use to us now

already he has, with his death this morning
inspired this poem, this mourner, this mourning

now the hymns and songs
will be written and sung
now the sculpture, now the art possible

like so many sighs after so many
holding their breath

what is the breadth of the divide
between this life and the next
between light and dark

was it the 20 or so minutes of twilight
prolonged, that he has lived
stretched out over 6 years

the sun of bishop Eldon, this morning,
went down

it had been there, sitting upon the sea
like wine and bread, like body and blood

like Christ for whom he stood in
for most of his life here on earth

ii.
Pause

where to go for poetry
in response to this, in response
to death

this and that other one
the bishop, her brother, inspired
to add together

dead adds up or is subtraction
added to subtraction

I am bad though
I do not go too near

I withdraw for the dying
to die in peace or because
I fear death, fear being too near
a man or woman drowning,
fear being pulled down,
drawn under

these two people though
were parents to me too
Nicolette and Eddie's mom
mommy to me too

used to press up against her
for goodness, for warmth
for guidance, for light

even when unspoken, I followed

Oh, boy,
Keva died today, I just heard
radiation, such treatments
hasten the arrival of death
or prolong life

was it David Thompson,
Prime Minister of Barbados
who went off to the USA
not long ago, for treatment
and soon after died

these operations,
expensive as the dickens
and what do they do
push us earlier into our graves

did not expect she'd have gone so soon
heard she was ill not long ago

her brother in a coma
the bishop in his bed,
more than 5 years, passed away
just the other day

was it not Monday of this week
Saturday, and his sister,
hastens off to catch him up
to join hands, to journey with him

how mysterious such things are
living and dying,
coming into this world
going out again

oh, when will all my own aches and pain
add up to having to leave this world


© Obediah Michael Smith, 2011
Written between 7:30 p.m.
Monday, February 7 and 9:19 p.m.
Saturday, February 12, 2011

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This poem expresses the complexity and the deep understanding and certainly the sincerity that you have for this situation. I find most amazing, your ability to translate reality into art or to act as a transducer to turn one type of energy into another. This piece is touching, enlightening, philosophical, intellectual and without a doubt spiritual. Personally, I believe that anyone who can write about death as beautifully as you would write of birth has earned the right to live.
Would you be able to duplicate such a work if the Bishop was to die a second time?

Friday, February 18, 2011 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger aromaproductions said...

You are like the superman of poems, ready and willing to render words of wisdom on the shortest notice. Once again you have written two beautiful poems.

What you write seem so effortlessly musical, but I know it is not. It is hard work. It is a style that defines you. The reader mentally dances to the words you put on paper. Has anyone written a thesis on your style yet? I know these rhythms are created both consciously and unconsciously.

Poems
The second poem has a different feel to the first. Perhaps the element of shock, or your proximity the second person, has played a role in the outcome. One explores slow death, the second, sudden death.

In the seventh stanza of the first poem, "Wafer of Sun," I would have chosen the words "reduction allowed," but knowing you "reduction to allow is a conscious choice because of the patterns you have created:

reduced to what = verb + to what
reduced to what " "
reduction to allow noun + to infinitive
him to be declared " "


In the second poem "Pause," in the second stanza you use the adjective "dead" instead of the noun "death". Just curious!

In the seventh stanza "used to press up against her" reads sexual in my mind. Don't know if that is intentional. Just wondering how that would go over at a funeral if they have a copy of the poem and reading along with you. If they don't have a copy, they might not notice. I think dropping the "up" from "press" could make a difference or choose another word altogether. Guess the prude in me is showing its colors.

Fear of death comes through in both poems. I guess, if we knew where we were going it would help or maybe it just make matters worse. But the unknown destination--the finality(the end of life, spiritual or physical) or the idea of eternity (the beginning of a spiritual life) will always gnaw at us.

Great work, love your style. It fits you like skin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011 8:26:00 AM  

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