I do not want to die on a day like today,

bright and hot like molten silver, splashed citrus
on tiles of the Turkish café where women in black
aprons bear trays with samovars and cups of tea

and coffee under the trees, glasses of clinking ice—
And though I might have said so a few anguished times
in the past, I do not want to die tomorrow: I know
I have to sometime, but hold on, not just yet:

for there is a sliver of fragrance
I cannot place— or are those ripe mangos
on the counter? But really, I cannot die today
or tomorrow unless I know what it is exactly,

if not approximately; what has turned my head
just now, away from any of the mercurial
self-absorptions of the moment, away
from minor aches and pains and worries

that must pale when reckoned against the vast,
incomprehensible mystery of the universe—
This light alone, this sky, almost enough
by itself, as if bombs did not explode

in cities daily, turning what they touch
to fire, to ashes, skin grafts and phantom
limbs— What’s death if all is change?
What’s life if not mercurial change?


In response to Via Negativa: Shore Leave.

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