Poetry / Poets

What Does A Person Think About the Moment Before Death? by Martin Willitts Jr

For her, it was the lists of things-to-do.
She was concerned for stacks of dishes
incapable of cleaning themselves;
laundry that never lost its dingy-grey
around the elusive collars; the vacuum
cleaner that did not erase all traces of dust
settling eventually in her own lungs
into a fit of sneezes lasting a week.

There were recitals with complaints
about how things were skewed,
or broadcasts of neighbors
about things that did not concern them
but bothered them enough
to pick at them like carrion birds.

What about the filing of her nails into compost,
or feathering of light from the day window,
or flushing of nightmares?
There was no therapist that could handle the truth
when they heard it, even when they heard it all.
No cigarette patch could remove the urge
to pull her hair out about her husband’s mistakes —

For her, it was the stack of things-to-do,
keeping them straight and orderly
as a vacuum needing to be filled,
Her lungs filled with neighbor’s twisted faces.
The parrot of a therapist summarizing
and re-stating the obvious.
It was a repressed sneeze.
It was a place where nightmares could handle the truth.

She had been taught to finish what she started —
but this time, she can’t.

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2 thoughts on “What Does A Person Think About the Moment Before Death? by Martin Willitts Jr

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