Hakuin - Death

Poems from the 2018 New Year Death Poem Workshop

The trees and I!
For almost 80 years we have breathed each other.
Now, approaching my last breath,
I can’t tell one of us from the other.

Farewell at last to this metabolic fire
that warmed me from birth!
80 years of mammalian love and loneliness!
Now for the big molecular reunion!

At last I am ready to go wherever gravity may lead,
To fall with the leaf, to merge with the stream,
To sink deep into the soft, thirsty earth.

- Myozen Barton Stone

***

1.The earth laughs in flowers, waterfalls, rainbows.
I laugh at the amazing good fortune for this
rich and wonderful life.

2. Irises, the first food for bees in spring.
This bag of old bones might nourish
a tree, a shrub…Bees may alight on
the blossoms. Their buzz will not
awaken me.

3. I am dying. There are no more
weeds to pull.

4. As a child, fearful of death, I’d hold
my breath in bed, trying to know what
it must be like to be dead.
Now breath holds me, for not much longer.

5. My granddaughter, Samaya, tells me her
kitty is dead, died next to her in bed. We
dig a hole together. Flowers will grow here.
So simple.

6. Each precious moment,
dewdrops sparkle in sunlight.
Breath’s insistence like pelting rain.
Heartbeat fades, descending mountain,
journey’s end.

7. We have done well, my love, in this dance
with all beings, in this dance together.
Time now to set down shovel and hoe,
to scatter our last seeds.

- Constance Miles 1/3/18

***

I.
It’s getting closer. . .
Its nearness manifests: hot tears burst from my eyes and sobs catch the breath.
More bad news.
Fine to soften it,
To pad the sharp metallic edge with the continuous coatings of daily-ness.
Let me open, let me open, let me open-
I beg you, sky!

II.
Inexhaustible, beyond, all-encompassing,
Endless, boundless, infinite, forever, never-ending, eternal
. . . .do you get it?

III.
Let experience swallow me,
Let action melt completely into the next, and the next, and the next.
Let movement be breathing wind,
Body, solid water.
Let the sunset break over and soak into me like a yolk staining the sand.
Stones at the bottom of the sea- now I am one with you.

- Jude

***

So bright, so bright – cold certain fact
Unwavering fate – shared by all
Connects us all – the cold softens
And there, at the edge of the light -
So dark, so dark – gaping night
Not even a drop of knowing can get through
But a warmth – expansive, unbridled
A colt gallops under twinkling stars

Without liking it, finally loved it: death.
Busting out of the closet in a jumble of boxes.
One intimate moment is worth all of it.

- Korin