Saturday, September 18, 2010


The story is indubitably one-sided:
look up Euridyce
and you’ll be directed to Orpheus.
That’s the problem of marrying
a famous musician, who charmed
people, animals, birds, fish,
set stones and trees dancing
and stilled the punishments of hell.

We know very little about Euridyce,
so let’s shift our point of view:
she was still-born,
her near-life experience mirrors
near-death experiences:
groping through darkness
towards a threshold
beyond which there is light,
warmth and brightness
only, at the last, to be drawn back
into blackness and delusion.

Life and death are not opposites;
it is birth that opposes death.
Birth and death
book-end our life’s story;
we call one a miracle
the other a travesty.
We do not mind not knowing
where we’ve come from
but we dread not knowing
where we are going.
It would be better if like Janus
we could face both directions
with equal grace.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It must be the most consummate
burglar of them all.
At the beginning, the thefts were basic;
walking, dressing myself,
turning over in bed.
But later, it removed my ability
to feed myself, to sing in a choir
and play the piano.
It seems the thieving is systematic;
when I spasm, I either go rigid
like a corpse or curl into a fetal ball;
my very beginning
and my very end are intact;
it’s the life in between
that is being dismantled.

Some weeks ago I had friends around
to honour a young man’s death.
Shubert’s “Winterreise” was sung.
The room was full of beauty and pain;
the human need to give comfort
was expressed by my friends
holding one another in close embrace.

Entrenched in my wheelchair,
like an armadillo,
I sat watching.
I could neither give
nor receive comfort.
The M.S had stolen
my human connectedness.
I was left with only words,
but words were not appropriate.
It was a double grieving
and brought with it the fear
that one day, even my words
might be taken away.