When Death came walking up the road

Well, I was trying to think of something to post on my blog this week, when I happened to come across a facebook post about Emily Dickinson (by Jennifer Wilson, in the launch party for Miriam Drori’s new book Social Anxiety Revealed).  This reminded my of the session we did on Emily at Poetry Day once, and the light-hearted (if you can be light-hearted about death!) poem that I wrote – part pastiche, part commentary on Emily herself.  So, I thought, why not post it here, then?  (It’s also in the Holme Valley Poets anthology In the Company of Poets).

 

When Death came walking up the road,

a chill as cold as space

filled me as I beheld his cloak –

I dared not see his face.

With shaking hands I combed my hair,

put on my finest hat –

but then I thought, “don’t waste this time:

others will see to that.”

I cast my gaze around the room:

upon the desk there lay

great piles of scribbled lines of verse

in woeful disarray.

“Alas, my children,” I bemoaned,

“How I have failed you!

For years I left you incomplete

save for a paltry few.

You are not ready to be read

and now will never be.

You will not, as I once hoped,

remind the world of me.”

In sadness, I took up a pen

and wrote, “please burn them all.”

I steeled myself as best I could

and waited in the hall

for his dread knock, but no knock came –

I looked outside and saw

the bones of that unearthly hand

upon my neighbour’s door.

It opened, and the poor man left

to join the ageless dead.

Death grinned, and tipped his hat at me.

“I’ll see you soon,” he said.

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