Passing Away

By Pamela Hatfield Webster - Salisbury, Maryland, USA - 2 September 2014



Last fall I walked through Don DeRosa’s yard,
cemetery bound. And at his lot’s edge,
a Russian olive hacked to ground, only
smooth boles with yellow stump ends showing.


I know that tree. In spring and summer an arched
canopy of sighs, rustles, murmurs,
played its verdant music there.
____________________Messy olive,
full of thorns and perfume. A thousand golden
trumpets sprayed golden pollen everywhere, a
thousand thousand leaves and berries, scattered
with energetic abandon like coins from
a Mardi Gras float.
____________________Messy olive.


Death now holds him in her strong and supple
arms, and whispers excellent eternal
words into his truncate ears: apoptosis,
autolysis. Her words descend beyond
light’s end, beyond the gate where hope’s abandonment
leers, beyond the tap root, the endless branching
mats of finest root hairs, the mycorrhizal
colonies, who work assiduously at their
dark alchemy
__________to find at last, precursor cells
in the shadows of death’s twilight kingdom.


With great intent, they listen to her
hormonal logic: cytokinin, auxin,
all speak of transformation, new life.
the vaulted earth, in death’s dream kingdom
differentiation begins its weird
magic:  roots are transformed, morph into stems,
reach upward blindly toward light. Moving
of their own accord, they feast on air, on
sunlight, desiring to be green, to grow leaves,
to eat the sun.
_____ ________ _We turn and turn again,
and in that turning find a thousand jubilant
shoots, a thousand joyful sighs and murmurs
where there was only one. In death’s other kingdom
they clap their hands

_______ ____ __ _they go up with a shout.