So Mahler and the other greats, they try
to tell us death is not so bad. I guess
they’re right. Not long ago, it loomed so god-damned
close: in people’s houses, in the fields
and streets. They learned to deal with it. Just so
much closer to the bone. We buy our meat
in bright-red shrink-wrapped squares. Looks nothing like
the too-thin panting dog my weary wife
and I had put down at the vet’s this afternoon.
The trauma and the grief, they’re shorthand for
an abstract canvas of emotions: Rothko,
Pollock shot clean through with something pulsing
harder, darker than their paint. But needle,
doctor’s stethoscope: so quiet, bright.