Friday, October 18, 2013

Corpse Poem

I posted the following poem recently in a thread about yoga that I shared on my Facebook page. 

The poem is called "Corpse Poem" after the yoga corpse pose (shavasana), a pose that often is the last in a series of yoga poses. In this pose you spread your legs and arms, close your eyes, and try to sink into yourself. The corpse pose is half relaxation, half meditation, half transcendence, and half perfect afternoon nap.  It's my favorite pose.

The poem proceeds as a group of six short questions.

But enough talk.  Here's the poem: 

Corpse Poem

How do we listen to death?

We listen to the sound of death
The way we listen to the sound of the sea
To the message the waves pound against the shore
Their soft rush of foam upon the sand

And what do we hear?

We hear the things we forgot to tell the dead
The questions we forgot to ask them
The enigmatic dreams they will never explain
The useless arguments we will neither win nor lose
The mutual misunderstandings 
That will never be clarified
The lies for which we forgot to ask forgiveness
The problems death defers
The unresolved quarrels with the dead

And what can we do in the face of death?

We can leave this house
And keep going 
Never to return

We will not even take 
The things that have meant
The most to us, our books
The plants we have nursed
The children we have raised
Punished and praised
The clothes (the dark 
Blue ties, the tweed jackets
The rakish wool caps)
That make us look 
More the man
More the woman
More the hero
More the young lover
Searching for love

We can leave this house
And keep going
Never to return

And what is death?

It is the hand of God
The meal prepared with love
Flowers from the pierced breast
Of the Blessed Virgin
The shore that smells of widows
Studying the foam

And should we fear death?

No, we shouldn't fear death
We should fear the loud man’s coming

The pain of cancer
That does this or that 
To the body

That pain that is 
Longer than sorrow
Stronger than love

The tumor that grows like
A child who then learns
To hate you

A child who will not take 
The love and joy you give her

What is as difficult as death?





The photo above is from the Yoga Art and Science website.  Click here to go there.

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