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Death Poem.

A bright and pleasant
autumn day to make
death's journey
Fukyu wrote in 1771 when he was dying
and how strange you should choose the middle
of summer to finish writing your letter. Your
fading body would think it too hot. I sit under
a scrub oak, with some suspicion that there are
gods of the hills
drawing my line to yours, more so than if I leaned
over your hospice bed
just a few miles away where I tried to coax you
into drinking water or taking some pudding.
It maddens my wife that I should cling
to you, however loosely. The neediness of human jealousy
extends to the dying and I remember your human spite:
how you could scoff at another's death
with a twinkle in your eye. Like your friend Tokiko-san
jokes about you napping all day. Dementia has stripped
her manners like a thief. You're showing what
you kept to yourself, and all the love for others
with it--it's in a smile I never saw, or the way you address
someone I never heard, those words or that tone
from you. Your daughter-in-law says it's the angel
speaking, but I know you are the angel and like all of us
you clipped your wings with the scissors
of fear and desire.

Tomorrow I'll come to see you. I know
you'll still be there. The foothills where I loiter
between ocean and bay but smell of neither
are presences like your body.
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Author:Tanemura, Kenny
Publication:Bamboo Ridge, Journal of Hawai'i Literature and Arts
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2013
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