A further post on the matter of mentally preparing for death. Or un-. Not sure why I’m on this kick. But as I was in the middle of all these thoughts, a high-school English teacher of mine, David Weber, sent me the gorgeous poem below. It was written by another former teacher at Exeter, Charles W. Pratt.
The poem takes the opposite angle from my last post, where I was saying that I would want a little bit of time to meet my own death. Not enough to linger, but enough to say my goodbyes, to express gratitude, and to beg forgiveness where necessary. To get the kind of footing under me that Jane Kenyon seems to have found in her famous piece, “Let Evening Come.”
Let me be immersed in life when it happens, Pratt says in his powerful poem. I hope you’re as moved as I was.
Resolution, by Charles W. Pratt
When the tsunami draws back its fistful of waters
And crushes the city, let me for once be ready.
Let me be washing the dishes or patting the dog.
When the great windstorm angles across the flatlands
Hungry and howling, let me be patting the dog.
Let me kneading the bread or picking an apple.
When the ground shudders and splits and all walls fall,
Let me writing a letter or kneading the bread.
Let me holding my lover, watching the sunrise.
When the suicide bomber squeezes the trigger
And fierce the flames spurt and wild the body parts fly,
Let me be holding my lover or drinking my coffee.
Let us be drinking our coffee, unprepared.
Julian and Tony on The Ridge at Loveland Ski Area, Christmas Day, 2010.