At a Deathbed

By Randel McCraw Helms - Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA - 2 September 2014



I told my mother not to die, but she

Was too busy to hear, intent upon

An industry none living can endure.

Dying is a grunting shove; I know,


I have watched it with tears,

The button too much for the buttonhole,

The stickleback for the heron-throat,

The braincase for the birth canal.


Down that barbed and darkened chute all

Will go at last toward the light; and, like

The kicking gnu braced on a mudbank

In the toothed vise of the crocodile.


Our slow, sweated drag to the death-rattle

Will stretch hours, gasping days, years.