Poem for Imran Saithna…


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DEATH CAME IN RATHER SHEEPISHLY

In Memoriam Imran Saithna

Death came in rather sheepishly having just
taken someone quite young and in the

flush of life and sat down in front of me in an
overstuffed chair and took off his shoes showing

two identical feet with actually
thousands of toes and somehow between

each toe I saw Sahara sand-dunes as
if from the air and thick Amazonian

jungle with smoke-centered clearings and
people down below with happy children running naked

and every human environment in between
and death said nothing for a while to let me

get used to his presence and on
such short notice

“It’s not what you think at all really
it’s not what anyone thinks

The wise regard it as simply another door
on a straightforward trajectory while the

stupefied are terrified as if they’d be
leaving something sumptuous for something

either blank as paint or as tedious as choir practice
when it’s actually inexpressibly engaging in a

way no one experiences on this side where you’re
sitting now listening to me babble on”

He crossed his legs and I saw at his
knees sets of wing-like flutterings

that extended backwards through the material
furniture and walls into similar but

distinctly different dimensions

And the falling apart and reconstitution of his
face sometimes like a spring day in the

woods and sometimes like a wintry chill at the
arctic top of the world but in all cases

something both familiar and strange
and then he saw me seeing and for a

moment came behind my seeing so that
I saw things here through death’s eyes for a split second

the transparency of interrelated contingencies
the way things come together in a kind of trance

the really drab colors of everything on this side
and our plucking at rainbows

and how young or old is truly only relative with
some of the youngest in years being the oldest

and vice versa and he settled back and
back into the chair through dynasty after

dynasty to Egypt and beyond and I
saw how death was an essential

ingredient to our acceleration onward
and a true disentangling but only at the time

we’re called and not at any other which
only makes entanglings greater

as in suicide or its pseudo-glamorous
perhaps slower but self-destructive variants

“The young man from the car-crash” he
said looking up at me and I saw

great golden canyons open and close in his
eyes

“He was done here and is now on a serious
diplomatic mission having left only

sweet memories behind him which for a time
makes everyone he left behind want to be

more like him
so he’s on two diplomatic missions in fact

there where he can’t be seen
and here in his echoing after-effect

where he can”


1/24/07 (at Fajr) (from Invention of the Wheel)

 

Categories: Angels, Death, Poems

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