Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ending life with warmth?

A poem about end of life and the desire to maintain dignity and warmth til the end.
Posted today by Garrison Keillor at

End of Days

by Marge Piercy
Almost always with cats, the end

comes creeping over the two of you—

she stops eating, his back legs

no longer support him, she leans

to your hand and purrs but cannot

rise—sometimes a whimper of pain

although they are stoic. They see

death clearly though hooded eyes.

Then there is the long weepy

trip to the vet, the carrier no

longer necessary, the last time

in your lap. The injection is quick.

Simply they stop breathing

in your arms. You bring them

home to bury in the flower garden,

planting a bush over a deep grave.

That is how I would like to cease,

held in a lover's arms and quickly

fading to black like an old-fashioned

movie embrace. I hate the white

silent scream of hospitals, the whine

of pain like air-conditioning's hum.

I want to click the off switch.

And if I can no longer choose

I want someone who loves me

there, not a doctor with forty patients

and his morality to keep me sort

of, kind of alive or sort of undead.

Why are we more rational and kinder

to our pets than to ourselves or our

parents? Death is not the worst

thing; denying it can be.

"End of Days" by Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems, 1980 - 2010. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.

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