Dying by Mallory

Rupert Brooke at 90

I know what he is doing.

He is ‘powering down’ and saying ‘good bye.’
But he is not saying ‘good bye’ to us.
In the brittle partitions strewn with debris
that are now his mind
we can no longer exist.
we are on the far side
of rusted wire and rotted pines
that his mind can no longer
pick their way across
as no one could successfully
then or now
on their bellies
with scotch and king and country
mud their way from one side
to the other.

He is saying ‘good bye’ to himself.

Each time he falls
each time he strikes his head on the sink
or the stove or table
and sounds the retreat
into unconsciousness
it is himself he needs
to bid farewell.
It is himself in the moments of morphine
he needs to distance
to see in what he seems to see
that he does not see any
thing he once recognized in a pint
he held so brazenly
choking the last swig
in a fist so strong and
fingers so thick and menacing
as to make the December dawn
apologize for rising so cold
and so late.

And now there are the needles
all over those paste white hands
and the metronome of machines
telling him which side of the prayer
of eternity he sighs inaudibly.

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