This is from a writing prompt I gave my students in Creative Writing class. We had studied “Conscientious Objector” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. and I just happened to choose Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes” for yesterday’s daily poem. I made one of their writing prompt options to write a poem which personifies Death as those poems do.
She’s large, Death is, like a most ancient grandmother,
her gap-toothed grin sparkles with an invitation to dance.
She’s got a baby on one hip and a broom in her free hand.
Her breath is the warmth rising from a freshly plowed field.
You can hear her whisper on a moonlit night
and her cackling laughter rises into the spiraling eddies
of a snowstorm.
There’s a hardness behind her eyes,
like the glitter of diamonds.
She can’t be fooled, Old Death.
She works on contract, and she won’t be denied.
She gathers the last and the lost into her sturdy arms.
I’ve felt her pulling on the other end of the line
as I have held one I didn’t want to let go.
But here and there she comes to the bedside
of a traveler weary of taking a breath,
or the desperate soul about to leap, weary
of the work of the beating heart.
Her cool quiet kiss touches a brow
and her whisper lifts the curtains
like a winsome spring breeze:
“Not yet, my darling. Now is not your time.”
As she moves off through the veils of destiny,
you hear her thoughtful chuckle,
and smell the dank darkness of a cave.
1. Laughing with the kids. They have recently discovered Kidsnippets and we have occasional family binges.
2. Coffee from Ethiopia. The father of one of my students recently came to visit and brought me some coffee from the source of coffee.
3. Lights at ends of tunnels
4. The leaf-buds on the sycamore tree are about to burst
5. Improvisation. It’s good for so much more than Drama class.
May we walk in Beauty!