Sometimes I think I’m dead, at first I thought it was the phone that was dead because it never rings anymore but I called a distant relative because I have no immediate family left and left a message which is another reason I think I’m dead and don’t know it because I call these people, even the doctor’s office and leave messages and no one ever calls me back, and of course no one ever comes to the door, even when I order books on Amazon thinking they will leave the package on the doorstep if it’s of a larger size or in the mailbox at the end of the driveway if it’s smaller, but no book on the doorstep or in the mailbox, and when I venture out, in the car, to the local liquor store, there‘s a different person behind the counter who has no idea who I am, not the same guy who was there for years and knew me well and what I like to drink, and when I go to the grocery store, there’s another example, I never see the familiar faces I used to see, as though they have a whole different staff now, so I drive back to the house, an old bungalow in a village about ninety minutes north of New York and go inside where my ailing wife used to say from her armchair in the living room, Hi, honey, I’m glad you got back before the storm, which she doesn’t say anymore, in fact she doesn’t say anything anymore because she has been dead since Christmas and I was so overcome with losing her and not having her in the house anymore to say Hi, honey, I’m glad you got back before the storm, that I didn’t know how to go on but somehow I guess I did because I’m still coming in the door and seeing her empty armchair in the living room which is certainly not a living room anymore and I’m thinking that I’m also dead, that somehow death sneaked up on me and took me with it even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time or even now, leading me to believe that death is a solitary continuation of life except that no one knows who you are or comes to the door or calls you on the phone or says from an armchair in the living room, Hi, honey, and so on and so forth, a sort of living death or death-life, but hang on, hold the phone as the saying goes, if that’s the case, where is my wife, she’s not in the house and I haven’t seen her in the village, but if I’m here she must also be here, I don’t mean here in the house or even the village or even New York City, I mean somewhere, and it’s just a matter of finding her, something to live for, so to speak.
I am so weary of death
And weary of writing about death
For the rest of my life I will be bereft
Because death crushed the last breath
Of my two brothers and my son Seth
And lastly the cruelest of all my wife Beth
But now as I catch my breath
I’ve nothing left to say about death
So henceforth and hereafter to hell with death.
7-9-11 x 3
Art by the brilliant Donn P. Crane