One Death – Geraldine Connolly

When my grandmother was dying

in her soft bed in the corner

of my aunt’s farmhouse kitchen,

we all sat with her, even the children

 

staring at the white, shut face,

masked in a rapture of its own

while all the noisy racket of death

filled the air, lungs letting go,

 

blood about to rise in a purple wash,

the pot of bones knocking,

in a fury to stay behind, stay with us.

Or perhaps the soul was rattling

 

its grip, a last hold on life,

giving the body one final slap,

she shuddered and trembled so, then

shook it all off and turned away.

 

I knew when the spirit left, her body

cold and floury, so still. We gave her

bed rail one last shove, helping

give her over to whatever pulled at her

 

from that other world. She no longer waited

as women wait but held forth one arm,

buoyant as that white branch the angel brought

both to warn and to comfort.

 

Geraldine Connolly

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