Tag Archives: death

Perpetua in Carthage

I, who found the door of death
with light forever
on the other side.

I, Perpetua in Carthage.

I, martyr to dust.

I, traveler with slaves
to beasts.

I, rejecter of the babe
my father brought
aching for my breast,

asking me:

“Do you see the space
where you will not be?”

I who was silent.

He asked me:
“What can this space be called by?”

I, who answered:
“I cannot be called anything
other than what I am.”

I, who dreamt of the serpent
I, who dreamt of my slave sisters
I, who dreamt of fighting my way
through the dark door into the light.

I, who brought Felicity singing
to the wild heifer.

I, whose collarbone caught
the executioner’s knife.

I, who caught his hand
and drew the knife
through my neck.

I, who would not be denied.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Passage

Touch some part of me
while we wait for my soul
to be taken and crushed
like petals for scent.

I will neither enter
nor leave the room again.

Each moment
is a snowflake transforming
into a waterdrop
on a green leaf.

The border to the next land
is invisible to the naked eye
music is the only map.

I have walked away
without a word of goodbye.

You must stay on
wakeful
counting the barks of distant dogs
and the songs of the souls
needing bodies.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Memento Mori

On Wednesdays and Thursdays
I take the 7 bus home
after dark.

We pass by a funeral home
and every night
I look through the window
and see a small arc of lamplight,
an empty sofa,
and a box of tissue
waiting.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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Bury His Heart

Bury his blue heart
in the soft earth
below the hydrangeas
of his grandmother’s garden.

Bury his white heart
in snowfields, white snow sky,
and blizzards blowing down.

Bury his gold heart
in shimmer light
of the birch trees along
the shortcut
we took every day that Fall.

Bury his green heart
in the fresh alfalfa
and August corn,
wet with morning,
sharp-edged and lush.

Bury his brown heart
in the fallow fields of November
spare and patient
as he was.

Bury his silver heart
in the summer stars.

But bury his red heart
with us.

Copyright Kay Winter

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What Matters: Like It Or Not

What matters,
like it or not,
is that the world comes at us
without warning.

It finds us without our asking,
without our worrying and wailing
as we dry the dishes
or wait for the bus.

Like it or not,
the tips of our fingers
are as good a way to hang on
as any other.

Like it or not,
the world looks at you
the way your child does,
clear-eyed and expectant.

Like it or not,
you also have to eat
what is in front of you.

What matters,
like it or not,
is that everything that is beautiful
fades, falls, and breaks.

(We have, we do, we will.)

(It doesn’t matter.)

Like it or not,
this is the road we are on
because this is the way to the garden,
though the days in the garden
are long past.

Like it not not,
you have to get up now,
the bell is ringing,
the clouds are flying
across the morning sky,
and the tide has pulled itself
away from shore.

Like it or not,
the world spins around
and the people who were here,
are someplace else now,
and who you used to be,
is gone as well.

Like or not,
we are all a little bit lost
but always where we should be.
Like it not,
here we are,
on our knees in the dark,
wiping our eyes,
wiping our noses,
trying to make a deal,
even though we are the ones
who blew the house down.

Like it not,
life and death are both thieves.

Like it or not,
it doesn’t matter,
that what they steal,
they keep better for us
than we could keep for ourselves.
But they both promise,
(this is what matters),
they promise to give it back.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Uncertain Weather

We met when we were uncertain weather
and unfound lucky pennies.

An uncertain season
of rain through sun,
and smooth gray clouds lingering
low in the sky.

I did one certain thing.

I left you behind.

You, not strong enough for what was coming.
(Or was it me, sparing myself
the trouble of you.)

The weather this winter
blows sleet
over the bare trees of the park
I see from my window
(my only).

Years ago, before I knew you,
before I had to think of you,
I spent a year of Novembers
waiting in that park,
reading The House of Seven Gables
by streetlight,
while crows circled high in the pale air.

Now, from this window,
(my only)
I see the same crows,
settling in the dark empty windows
of the chapel across the green.

I leave the window open
to let the sound of the wind
drown out the drip of time.

I ask this:

When my crow comes
and settles on the sill
and speaks my bright simple name,
let me step over,
from do, to having done, to being over it.

Copyright Kay Winter

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Disappear

Ashes too long held perhaps disappear
like subtle movement of dew to air or
stone grains beneath the rain’s dislike.
Mortar cracks in the wall
around the last empty place you saw me.

– Kay Winter

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Lies

As you fall,
you tell yourself lies:
That you’ll dive in safely.
That you have become water.
That the sea has filled you already.
That the surface is visible, fragile, harmless
and that the deeps will welcome you.

But the black stone inside
is cold with truth:
Somewhere,
deep down,
there,
(prepare your heart)
the sea cometh upon us all.

– Kay Winter and Seamus Kennan

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Good Death

Do not let me go on such a day,
of dark clouds and pending rain.
Leave no one weeping
against the hospital wall.
Let no one run lost through the rain
denying my end.
Let me go after the snows and dark of January,
after the blusterings of March.
Let there be no need for detectives
conversant in wounds,
or doctors, pondering over the marks on bones.

Let me die on a spring day,
and leave no trace of my life.
Let it be a warm day,
like the first warm day,
that lets you believe
Winter was never here.

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Memory

The dirty ass end of winter:
Coughs, wet wool, dirty snow ridges at the bus stop.
Bottle shards in the puddle.
I remember our last days
in the same season.
But I don’t remember you.
I remember only my memory of you.

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