memento mori

I almost made you a memento mori:
a thing by which we remember the dead
a way by which we know we all will die
a skull and an hourglass, marking your passing

as if life were only the forced premonition
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

I could tell, how much easier that would have made it
so easy to exit the valley of tears
so easy to enter the kingdom of heaven
if I knew what was coming and abandoned all fear

as if love was only the pending distraction
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

I will never let them applaud at your death
like you were a ball to dance on my nose
like I was a seal at a circus of fools
the fanfare and panoply masking my mourning

as if death were only the sideshow attraction
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

I know that it’s possible
I’ve seen it and heard it: my grandma, my mother
my brother, my love,
all of them lost in unwindings so tragic
we watch and we share our grieving and loss
as if somehow we hope it will halve the cost of
the empty chair
the dusty picture
the broken habit
the abandoned ball
of loving you as simply as living you –
the words so close, only the “o”, replaced with ‘i”
for oh, I have loved you as simple as life
you are no thing, to commemorate you
to honour your living as much as your death –
I will not let them applaud,
clapping and clattering like the wheels of some cart
circling rotting streets with
the plague air echoing with
“bring out your dead”
so that we might throw our crass bodies on to the pile

as if death were only the sideshow attraction
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

instead I will call, with my voice loud and roaring
“hold your dead”

and then, in a whisper:
hold them quite softly
your hands, gossamer light,
for they are your dead
and in that your living,
perfectly suspended between the have and have not
and only you will know what that means

as if love was only the pending distraction
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

you may try to share it, but
as with love, it cannot be shared
like a glass of a water – for me half empty
for you half full
our lachrymal haze
every sob, aspirated
our every misery evaporated
will join the air, and then the mist,
and form a cloud, which may persist
into cold rain, or driving snow
a raging cyclone, who will know
whether our sadness will wet the canopied leaves
or dark the dirt

as if life were only the forced premonition
of everything fleeting, of endless goodbye

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

7 comments

  1. I want to hear you read and not so that I can applaud. Heavy. I love that first line that you began with weeks ago and where you went with it. Where’s the tea in the kitchen? Can it fit in there somewhere?

    1. Sometimes it’s leave and come back and leave and come back… Might have another round left in it… I don’t know. I got too sad at one point and had to stop for a bit…

    1. Dark nights, but we come out the other side… I guess it’s one of those things that still raises a tear with me…

      1. I know me a thing or two ’bout tears. I’m human. Tears happen. Only a rare few are blessed with voice sufficient to express the sorrow.

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