When, At A Distance

When, at a distance, discerning death
Idles past along the hills in their horizontal undulations
Waving flags and singing songs
In joyous approbation of those who have gone before us,

Then, at that distance,
Death’s light is quenched by the blinds of the moment;
For the yard is warm and safe with trees and swings,
Tall cottonwoods, and lilac bushes
Which set their scent in the spring time air
With fresh-growing grass, and alfalfa fields,
And water running through a little ditch.

And the air is clean and it smells like nature,
And it smells like the sweat of cows

And it smells like baking bread.

Then the scents of smoke and haze waft there,
And smoke makes the hills seem closer
And smoke covers the other smells

And the orange flags which waved so calm on the horizon
Take shape and rise above the houses
And they wave and they pile together
Until their weight overcomes the houses
And the houses collapse in darkened frames

While flames send volley’s up towards the sky

Then Death’s song comes clearly to the senses
And Death’s banners are clearly seen

And the hanged are waving flags
And the marching heads on pikes
And the songs are screams and dying sighs

And crows caw in joyous approbation of their merry feast
As they guide the spirits to the netherworlds.

Then one understands the horrible beauty of death’s parade,
When the yard seems distant, and the flowers fade,
Then one understands that singularity of death’s directive;
how death, and its proximity, changes one’s perspective.


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