Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Difficulty with Finitude

(This is a poem I wrote 14 years ago)

The Difficulty with Finitude

I try, from time to time,

usually late at night or after one too many glasses of wine,

to consider my motality.


(I have been led to believe 

that such consideration is valuable

in a spiritual way.

God knows where I got that.

Well, of course, God knows,

I'm just not sure.)


But try as I might, I'm not adroit at such thoughts.

It seems to me that I have always been alive.

I don't remember not being alive.

I have no personal recollections

of when most of North America was covered with ice

or of the Bronze Age

or the French Revolution

or the Black Sox scaneal.

But I do know about all that through things I've read

and musicals I've seen

and the History Chanel.


I know, intellectually that I've not always been alive,

but I don't know it, as they say, "in my gut'.

(What a strange phrase that is

since I am sure my 'gut'

is a totally dark part of my body

awash with digestive fluids

and whatever remains of the chicken and peas

I had for dinner and strange compounds

moving inexorably--I hope--through my large

and small intestines.)


My problem is I have no emotional connection to finitude.

All I know and feel is tangled up with being alive.

Dwelling on the certainty of my on death

is beyond my ken, outside my imagination.

Much like trying to imaggine

the vast expansion of space

when I live in Connecticut.


So , whenever someone suggests that

I consider my mortality,

I screw up my face and breathe deeply

pretending I am imagining the world

without me alive in it.


What I'm actually doing is remembering

things I seldom remember---

my father's smell, an old lover's face,

the feel of sand beneath my feet,

the taste of watermelon,

the sound of thunder rolling toward me

from miles away.


Perhaps when I come to die

(Perish the thought!!!)

there will be a moment, an instant,

some flash of knowledge

or a stunning realisation:

"Ah," I will say to myself,

just before oblivion sets n,

"this is finitude..."



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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.