Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 27, 2009

Of Robins, Pollution and the Indignity of Death

Some prose poems (or something) that came to me and were typed on my Treo literally while taking a power-walk by the Forest Glen/I-94 forest preserve today. It is somewhat inspired by the colorful, humorous, sometimes audacious religious poetry of the ancient Sufi (Islamic) poet Hafiz :
Walking the I-94 perimeter:
      The Spirit of God plagues me like a tiny stone in my shoe. It is both irritating and pleasant, in how it pricks my nerve. It subtly changes how I walk. It reminds me with every other step that it is there. / I walk along a busy byway and listen to the bustling birds in the bordering forest. Again I find myself at the edge of things, pushed up against inner and outer borders, beside myself. There is Me, and wallking alongside, there is He-me.  / Mcnugget sauce paks on the ground aggrieve me, McPeeve me, as they come to their final resting place –Nature’s testing place– here on the fringe of Middle America. /  I seek a path into these woods, but one does not reveal itself. Only flooded valleys and their tiny lilies can be seen. But my life is too full of valleys already. A robin stands as sentry on a fallen tree just inside the perimeter. As I pass, she flies to another tree twenty feet ahead of me, as if to prevent my entry to her family’s sacred domain. She will not allow my profane, petroleum-stained footprints to trod on her holy ground. I find myself wondering if robins taste like chicken. It’s those damned McNuggets again. Their pervasive plastic claws will be the death of us all. And still, these woods will remain. The Spirit will walk here without me for company, and grieve my passing, even as It breathes in clean, perfect, unfouled air.

– – –

There is no Dignity in death (no matter what funeral homes and tombstones say). It is the most undignified and ordinary aspect of the universe. Not beautiful, not ugly, not even benign or malignant. Death is. It is, in most cases, the fertile, decaying matter from which Life grows. But the dignity is in the life, either new or remembered… not the death.






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