The Moment Before

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And someone entered death with his eyes open.–Alejandra Pizarnik.

I want to enter death with my eyes open. My ears open, without masks, without fears. Knowing and not knowing. Serenely facing other voices, other airs, other paths. Forgetting my memories, detaching myself, being reborn intact.”

– Claribel Alegria

For me, these words are about Faith more than Death, but even so, is writing about Death inherently depressing? I share the experience of many others who have been very close to death – finding the clarity of Claribel Alegria to be an affirmation of Life.

So many pieces have “working titles” that change, but it seems important that this poem, originally titled “My Last Moment” grew into the more fitting title “The Moment Before.”


The Moment Before
by John Carter

I hope
for a cool Vermont morning.
I’ll be out with my dogs, early,
just as the sun comes up.

For some reason, the mosquitoes will all be sleeping.
The dogs will romp in the grass,
still decorated with dew,
running to me, then away,
as they soak in the morning.

I’ll remember yesterday’s conversations with my children,
and smile at how they are all doing so well, so happy.

I’ll walk to a favorite spot and sit,
sun on my face,
reading a great book.
I’ll think about my granddaughter,
my parents, sisters, brother.
I’ll think about my best friends and laugh a little.
I’ll remember my old dog, Bo, and cry a little.

When it’s late enough
that the birds have stopped singing
and the chipmunks run back to their dens,
I’ll put my headphones on
and listen to Alison Krause and Gillian Welch sing I’ll Fly Away.

And then I will.

I’ll Fly Away

A Story about the Body

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A Story about the Body
by Robert Hass

The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she mused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy,” and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity-like music-withered quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, “I’m sorry I don’t think I could.” He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl–she must have swept the corners of her studio–was full of dead bees.

Please support wonderful writers like Robert Hass at your local bookstore or here.

We’re in Eternity

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The mind cannot understand Rumi’s poetry. Neither can Desire. Mind and Desire are not enough. There’s something else, some other way of knowing. Some deeper part of our being that knows … we’re not in grief. We’re in eternity.

– Coleman Barks