[from Louise Gluck's Averno, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006]
You die when your spirit dies.
Otherwise, you live.
You may not do a good job of it, but you go on --
something you have no choice about.
When I tell this to my children
they pay no attention.
The old people, they think --
this is what they always do:
talk about things no one can see
to cover up all the brain cells they're losing.
They wink at each other;
listen to the old one, talking about the spirit
because he can't remember anymore the word for chair.
It is terrible to be alone.
I don't mean to live alone --
to be alone, where no one hears you.
I remember the word for chair.
I want to say -- I'm just not interested anymore.
I wake up thinking
you have to prepare.
Soon the spirit will give up --
all the chairs in the world won't help you.
I know what they say when I'm out of the room.
Should I be seeing someone, should I be taking
one of the new drugs for depression.
I can hear them, in whispers, planning how to divide the cost.
And I want to scream out
you're all of you living in a dream.
Bad enough, they think, to watch me falling apart.
Bad enough without this lecturing they get these days
as thought I had any right to this new information.
Well, they have the same right.
They're living in a dream, and I'm preparing
to be a ghost. I want to shout out
the mist has cleared --
It's like some new life:
you have no stake in the outcome;
you know the outcome.
Think of it: sixty years sitting in chairs. And now the mortal spirit
seeking so openly, so fearlessly --
To raise the veil.
To see what you're saying goodbye to.