Highly commended in ‘Dying Matter’ national writing competition.
It is Autumn, which is as it should be.
As the sap withdraws to mark the winter –
soul wasting winds and spirit sapping cold
and water crystallized to frosted glass.
All life prepares for what is to come.
For me, this autumn is no ordinary season –
the ones that come and go, along with the years –
like birthdays or Christmas.
For this I know is to be my last.
How do I know this?
I was led silently into a white-faced room
and he told me so, quite plain.
Well, after all the stuff about metastasized tumors
and treatment plans, he told me when I asked.
‘Of course we can never be sure, but I would be surprised
if you made it through the year.’
And so it is, as I watch the swallows and other birds of
myriad hue gather for migration, knowing that for some,
this will be their final journey,
as the very old, the weak, the young, succumb
to the miles stretching out beyond.
It is with an aching heart but an intense perception
that I tick off the ever-growing list of lasts.
And then I wonder why it is,
I have never really seen these things before –
not in the way I see them now.
The wind eddying the leaves and the evening light
glancing off the surface of the water
as the swallows rise in a dark swarm
and head out across the deadening sky:
Too late to understand mindfulness
and how it is that we should live each day
as though it were our last;
Too late for the bad feelings and negative thoughts;
Too late for the many things left undone,
or done, and wished undone.
Now just the creeping pain and the flickering light
as the world dims to the unknown blackness of eternal night.