That shore from which we first pushed off, how far away is it now?

In the morning, by the kitchen door, paper-thin strawflowers hold out their yellow bowls. The brass bell I bought from a temple gift shop swings under a branch of dogwood: a little more weight every day, as shoots erupt and buds crack open. Even verdigrised, you’d think the light is mild, is mellow, brings nothing but the gooey oil of blessings. Who’s to say it isn’t so? And yet, and yet. Even when the wind keens like the tool of a glass-cutter bent on dividing surfaces into a liturgy of smaller parts, a screen assembles. Don’t add my name yet to the names of the dead on the wall. Don’t carve their letters edged in gilt on a crypt. Just today, I thought of how, in place of a fence to put up around a yard of my own, I’d plant jasmine— so when its asterisks of scent opened on warm nights, no one could tell where their beauty or their yearning for the other side began.


In response to Cold mountain (41): Whenever their final day arrives.

One Reply to “That shore from which we first pushed off, how far away is it now?”


    When death and dying are lumped together
    as “kicking the bucket,” there seems little
    reason for a lachrymose ritual that will cost
    a lifetime’s nest egg. And yet, and yet.
    A send-off at sea is as good as any–one
    is flushed off the starboard to become part
    of whence life came, or where it ends. Debris.

    Do not send for whom the bell tolls, some
    tired man holding a ready bucket of waste,
    warned the unready, unprepared, or untidy.
    Inexorably, inevitably, the bell takes its toll.

    Like a confusing game, kicking the bucket
    is nothing but a tiresome waiting game.
    Let the jasmine bloom where they may,
    when they may; no one has yet come back
    to say if they, too, were enriched by manure
    from the overturned pail, nor say, when the day
    the game ends, they had no bucket of waste.

    —Albert B. Casuga

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