Stillness

There is something about a body
when it is dead.
You notice more the curves,
the way the skin stretches
over muscle
over bone.
You notice the wrinkles
now relaxed
worn into the hands, the face:
on the brow
– from too much to ponder
beside the corners of the mouth
– from choosing to see joy.
You notice the summation
of day after day
written in that skin,
in the elegance of each finger,
in the tired way the arms rest on the table.

The power in those arms
such strength
only now:
its remarkable absence –
no pulse to vivify the veins
no sweat to glisten in the light
no breath to fill the lungs
to soften the skin.

There is a stillness
that makes the familiar
seem so terribly foreign.
There is a stillness
that breaks the breath of the living
as – rigidly –
we gaze at frozen grace.
There is a stillness
that cools your blood
as your pulse trembles within.

 

Published by Fleas on the Dog, Sept 2020