And Here's Death

And here’s death: waiting behind corners. Are her teeth bared, or does she wrap a midnight shawl around her shoulders and wait for me to sleep? She is not shy. She emits the opposite of light, throwing everything into relief. Though the sun will illuminate the smile on my son’s face, her work is found even there: the shadow beneath his chin, the darkness in his mouth. Though it is by the light that I am able to see anything at all, it is by her dark that I can tell things apart, that I measure their worth, that I ascribe to them any meaning.

I have been courting death. I have written long sentences on pages – romances, entertainments, accounts, persuasions. Though they’ve had their audience, they are always only for her. She will glide over me one day, her shawl spread wide as to warm me. She’ll whisper in a voice that sounds like crunching leaves, “What have you left me?” I’ll point with a shaking finger to a splay of yellowed papers. She'll ask, “This is all you have to show?” I’ll nod. She'll offer me her hand, and in that moment I’ll have to decide to take it or be taken, and the difference will be the words on those pages, whether they’ve contained both light and dark; whether they’ve both illuminated and cast into relief; whether they’ve entered our world and given it any meaning.