life and death dance


Life and death commingle in gardens and graveyards.
We live our lives pushing life and death into compartments on our plate
like a two-year-old who does not want his carrots and noodles to
touch each other on the plate. Tantrums heave beneath our
mild exteriors like ocean waves or icebergs.

Tantrums – outrage that death is so soft, so quiet
and so riddled with dying – the real fear.

We box life and death as a tawdry way to attempt
controls over what we fear.
The church boxes them: Easter season. Lent. Holy Week.
Different colors.  Different prayers. Different candlesticks.
But what is true is that the two great angels
dance together giggling from behind their fans.
The angel of life and the angel of death are close friends
who wonder at our fears of discomfort, dignity-loss and oozings.

The angel of death bows gently at the gravestone of the
15th century cotton merchant
while the angel of life leans over to kiss
the new-born in the mid-wife’s arms.

What if the work were not so much to keep life and death in their places
but was, rather, to notice our triggers.
Might we not live careless in joy nor  die pickled in fear.
Life and death could co-mingle in a soul whose
thoughts enjoy the peace of quiet acceptance of both.
Perhaps peaceful human thought is the only real peace
for which the planet longs.

The vines of a rainforest
which smell bulldozer’s exhaust,
the sea-urchin in the
lobster claws,
the gazelle nourishing the lion,
the elephant dropping from great age,
the bee having worked itself to death as bees always do:
nature wonders at human fear
and winks at God.
Who winks back.

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