One Thing


One Thing

It is one thing to know that you will die someday;
quite another
to live with the consequences.

How is it done–going on? Knowing that you,
and all you know–but let’s just focus on the “you”–
maybe even call it “I”–the “i-You”–will, like any
device, any byte
of compressed data, some day, possibly today,
cease to function, then, to exist.

The answer–after taking a moment
to let the question sink in
along with the sun on your t-shirted belly,
the trilled interval of chirp overhead,
the soft bass of your partner’s chew to the side,
the clack of knife on his plate (more butter)–
and that always-palpable pain behind your eyes even
as they happen onto a sunflower propped
in a clouded jar–
comes first as another question: all gone?

And the answer: maybe.
But we are talking about just you–
you gone–

And the answer: he’s spiraling honey now
and letting it drip down
onto the toast, there,
from the gray knife’s edge.

Here’s a sort of draft poem, posted belatedly for dVerse Poets Open Link Night.

Also! Many many congratulations to all my dear gay friends and family members (and also to all those gay people I don’t know) re the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act. I wish you love, luck and all good things.

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17 Comments on “One Thing”

  1. Julie Laing Says:

    I was late in the door too, but so glad we both made it! This piece seems to get stronger as you go on. I liked that you circled–spiraled?–back to the knife. Such an insignificant detail, but it hints at so much.

  2. Steve King Says:

    My first comment was lost for some reason. Here we go again! This is wonderful self-examination and observation. We are all so complex and contemplative, even as we’re immersed in the details of everyday existence…I love how you wind this up: spiraling honey and the grey knife edge…worthy images in themselves but, juxtaposed as they are with the pondering that came before, it makes we wonder about what the other is thinking…Fine job here. Ditto the thoughts on DOMA.

  3. brian miller Says:

    really like the fine detail of the eating with your partner as it puts us right there…when i think of death it is in details like that…very contemplative piece…love the closing image…and def ditto on doma

  4. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, it seems we can only look at it from the i-You thing…and simultaneous with living, as a contrast of some sort, but of course, we will never be able to compare, only speculate. The ending here suits the subjective spiral of it all, even as it draws in the anomaly of all that is outside of us continuing, incredibly without our input and perspective, as if it has the nerve to exist independently. On my way out the door, k, so a short comment. Glad to see you were able to get something written down.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I love this line – “as if it has the nerve to exist independently.” This was actually written in response to your Rules poem, though I didn’t focus much on the subjects I harped on so obsessively in my comments, but was just thinking about the idea of your opening stanza re dying. k.

  5. janehewey Says:

    your steady voice and form suit this topic to a T. I rested especially long on the powerful statement of your opening lines. Once thought about, it can not be denied. Some (probably more than one) famous philosopher said, we spend our entire lives preparing to die. I don’t agree completely. I didn’t consider the fact in a deeply intellectual way until I was into my twenties. We watch others around us disappear from our lives, we notice the aged moving more slowly, we see our changing face in the mirror. The heart of your poem, with its reverence for the moment via t-shirts, butter, and honey, is wonderful. The knife edge and dripping honey a marvelous juxtaposition. A thoroughly enjoyable poem, k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Jane. I don’t know that most people do live preparing to die, or perhaps they would live differently. I would anyway! Hard to make those changes though, even when (or especially when) they are primarily internal. And, of course, very difficult to make the external ones too. Thanks for your sensitive and kind reading. k.

  6. I am really digging the way you are framing your idea.
    bringing it into a usual reality makes it all the more terrifying doesn’t it? I find myself considering such things in under such regular conditions the most extreme of all the questions, the fruitless investigations into the abyss on toast . . . the soft bass of your partner’s chew to the side . . . this line really sticks with me for that weirdest of all reasons –


  7. claudia Says:

    the contrast of honey and butter and the peaceful scene invaded with the thoughts of having to go or having to let go one day… this is really sensitively done k.

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    I love this. That IS the answer, really. But, it is impossible to really grasp.

  9. Geeze, Karin. This is so good. A few days ago was the anniversary of my sister’s death. I took a bite of watermelon and the taste was so good and realized that she couldn’t enjoy the sense of taste anymore. A real call to mindfulness, for me. This is a powerful reminder.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Victoria. I ‘m so sorry for your sister’s loss. I know you’ve written of it before. It must be very sad at moments, even for a person of strong faith. k.

  10. ayala Says:

    Wonderful images and a great write.

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