That Cottage of Darkness

Here below  is my favorite Mary Oliver poem, When Death Comes. Death came 36 hours ago for my Uncle Ed, and it came in just that way, the dagger of ice plunged between the shoulder blades.

I found his body and I got to be near it for a long time: through the EMT’s to the police, to the firefighters who had to take  the hinges off the bathroom door to get him out because he fell against it, wedging it shut. Ed was a big man.

When they did finally get him out, his arms were up – frozen up because he had died some 12 or 15 hours before – and it just struck me, that position. He looked like he was reaching out to embrace some dear long-awaited friend.

That’s the image I will take with me over the next days. It reminded me of this poem. Mary Oliver says Let me live my life like the bride married to amazement, Like the bridegroom taking the world in his arms.

Read on…

When Death Comes

When death comes like the hungry bear in autumn;

When death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

When death comes like the measle-pox;

When death comes like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

As a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

And I look upon time as no more than an idea,

And I consider eternity as another possibility,

And I think of each life as a flower, as common

As a field daisy, and as singular,

And each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

Tending, as all music does, toward silence,

And each body a lion of courage, and something

Precious to the earth.

When it’s over I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement,

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

If I have made of my life something particular and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing

And frightened,  or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

 

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A Post in Very Few Words

Here’s how life is generally and around the holidays especially:  

same-old, same-old, same-old same-old, same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old…

–  SUDDEN DEATH! –

~poor little kitchen mouse!~

same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old same-old,  same-old, same-old, same-old, same-old same-old, same-old.

Then bury the dead and go on festooning with red.

Vesuvius

Remember the old 1890s Baltimore Catechism that some of us could once recite quicker than our multiplication table? It went like this:

 Q. Who created Heaven and earth and all things?

 A. God created Heaven and earth and all things.

 Q. Which are the chief creatures of God?

 A. The chief creatures of God are angels and men.

 Remember? Well, I came upon a different sort of catechism while hanging around Mass. General Hospital this past week where my doctors performed their usual funny parlor tricks, resting their tummies on my lap to peer into my nose and eyes and so on. There in the lobby they had a special booth on aneurysms with pamphlets on Defusing the Time Bomb In The Brain, a video running on a  small TV and, behind the tables, a team of kindly people to help you once you have scared the living bejesus out of yourself by stopping to read them. See if you don’t think THIS little rundown has the same matter-of-fact feeling as that primer, that Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Prepared and Enjoined by Order of the Third Council of Baltimore:

Q. What Is A Brain Aneurysm?

A. An brain aneurysm is a bubble that forms on the side of the brain artery, very much like a balloon. There are two types of aneurysms, ruptured and unruptured.

Q. Are There Any Warning Signs?

A. The classic symptom of ruptured aneurysms is the worst headache of your life.

Q.  Can Aneurysms Be Prevented?

A. Unfortunately, no!  (exclamation point theirs, believe it or not.)

Q. What Are the Odds of Surviving a Rupture?

A.  50% die outright. Of those who survive, one-third recover with some deficit, one-third with substantial deficit, and the final third may require institutionalization.

So there you have it, kids, if you had any doubt at all: We sure DO we live on the slopes of Vesuvius and either sooner or later that nice old God of Baltimore and Surrounding Towns  has fixed it so that every last one of us from the littlest sweetie-pies to the biggest bigshots, will, like it or not, ALL be together in Heaven – and there’s a topic worth peering into for sure!