arlyn culwick – on death

Image: Inflected Landscape by Arlyn Culwick

So, young Death, what could you be?
Even my father’s cancered body
brought me no sightless terror at eternity.
I suspect you have no sting.
Perhaps you, old splinter in the heart of love,
never were more than mirage,
though love would need you –
necessary certain death –
as a nail for a cross,
and cross and nail and Christ and
resurrection
are all love –
the ever-dying eternal life of all.

If so, where would you go,
you much-maligned seed of beginnings?
Youngest purveyor of life,
always exactly zero years old –
ever painted Grim Reaper,
thief of loved ones,
skeletal with age and demon-haunted.
You, unknowable ultimate horizon,
ear-whisperer of the infinite terror of endings,
do not impart any evil
except perhaps deluded dread.

You would go to a greater whole
of which you are inseparably part,
for shapes without space,
age without time,
or nails without crosses,
have no significance.
Thus you, youngest innocent death
are as much your own as the terror of
a darkened room:
mere mirage,
as seemingly all-powerful
as its infinite inscrutable blackness
and the child-fantasy it feeds.

You are love’s very vehicle.
Flesh for sacrifice, in dying,
is meaning-embodied matter –
is substance made significant –
surrendered, emptied, dissolute,
but never for itself, nor for nothing;
always for all,
for everything made sign;
spirit, soul, and soil pervaded
by kindest, complete kenosis,
all-originating, all-resurrecting.
Only silliest oldest humanity,
children trembling sightless in their beds,
give shadows a scythe and empty eye sockets
and forget the bedroom’s sturdy walls.

Check out Arlyn’s blog HERE.

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