He was struck out of the blue by
A bolt of lightning and he died.
It was out of the deepest darkest blue
That his death came, he thought.
When he looked back on his dying
He was amazed, and puzzled, too,
For though it happened all at once
He had been, he realized, dying for some time.
It was not anything he had control over–
Because his dying was not an experience he could put
Into words, one sentence after another.
His dying wouldn’t be thought of in that way.
From the moment the bolt struck
He was set willy-nilly on a dizzying descent, free-
Falling into the vast, terrifying and wondrous world of
Meaning, one that human beings were creating,
He was to learn, in collaboration with the gods——
A world wherein time moved, echoing
And reverberating with a significance
Which he scarcely could begin to fathom.
In the ensuing struggle for survival were all manner
Of unconscious fears and inner demons which began to arise
Out of the shadows during which he fought
Not to lose sight of the bigger picture–that of being
Brought face to face with the profound mystery of
His own inwardness. It was a vision
Of inwardness not of the “here’s what I saw” variety
But an ongoing discovery, constantly growing
Out of direct, personal experience, each moment
Poised between his dying and his being reborn,
Between his holding on and his letting go.
It was more a matter, he sensed, of being gone through:
For he was dying and as his dying continued he wanted
To keep himself conscious every minute of every hour
Of every day through it all. He simply was living
His dying and living it, he imagined, as much as he could bear.
But it was in his dying that something strange happened:
His mind was unable to absorb anything discursive.
That is, he was dying and had no time, let alone desire,
To narrate the process, or to process, as it were, the narrative.
Prose seemed heavy, leaden, useless: his narrative appetite ceased:.
All that was left in him for taking in, all that there was room for,
Was poetry. For from his dying there started
Springing forth poems, at times effortless and
Plentiful, flowering, it seemed, like those buds in time-lapse,
High-speed photography, appearing before him wherever he turned.
Poetry– whether reading or writing it–became as natural to him
As breathing, allowing him to participate in his dying in a way that
Reading and writing discursive thought, or prose, couldn’t.
For where prose would have put him outside
The experience of his dying, poetry, on the other hand,
Mirrored for him the death he was undergoing, enabling
Him not so much to contain but to harness in words the unrelenting,
Untouchable force of his dying –the death
Which he henceforward wanted deeply,
With all his heart and will, to be alive to.
For on the day that he died it was as if he woke up.
On that day he understood there was a deep hollowness
At the center of his life, and that he had to get hold
Of himself, that he had to settle down and make himself
At home in everything he said and did. Simply
It was the defining moment of his life.
And he had been, in his way, re-living it ever
Since and would go on re-living it until he
Was satisfied (could he ever be?) that his entire life
Had been retold, re-phrased, in the language of his death.
For he had, he realized, quite by accident
Discovered–where creative endeavor and
Personal suffering cohered– the elusive life
Of his soul.