Sunday, October 10, 2010

Actions speak louder than words

How do you chat about
the wilful ending of human life?
Not the murder of another
for who would want to chat about that?
But the sort of ending where
enough is simply enough.
One’s own end.

Being a burden is not
a prospect that pleases.
Nor is living out one’s life
swathed in the nauseating
aroma d’institution.
I reserve the right to call
‘Time gentlemen, please’.

Is there something to be learnt
from seeing the dreary process
through to the bitter end?
Is a life-lesson for my child
sufficient reason to put them through it?
The routine visits, the crushing burden of guilt
borne by the sandwiched generation.

People spend years trying to give life meaning.
Reason evaporates quickly from the vantage point
Of a wheel-chair driven by a nurses-aide.
Direction is difficult to uncover
waiting hours in the dining room for the midday meal.
Purpose is elusive when a day
is stolen by endless hours of blessed sleep.

Would a one-way flight to Switzerland
do the trick, or be an administrative nightmare?
If I stockpile pills, will my stash be uncovered?
A gun or a knife shows a lack of imagination.
Falling under a bus is taking the driver
hostage to one’s own sense of entitlement.
So much for the profound angles.

How far ahead should I give warning?
As no one else can be involved,
I must have the mental and physical capacity.
Which involves going early.
So it is a matter of picking the apogee of
the ride of one’s life, having a bag packed
and remembering to cancel the morning paper.

Written in response to a prompt ('Softy-spoken bullets; Hardly-spoken lips') from the Tenth Daughter of Memory, a writers' collective


JeffScape said...

I don't see the Muse. At all.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I think this is a thoughtful piece. However, I think there privilege in nursing people through to their end so why take the opportunity from those who wish to show their love.

Julie said...

Jeff: 'at all' - really? How about: 'softly spoken bullets' - all the reasons there are for a person to want to end their life, each being a harbinger of death; 'hardly spoken lips' - euthanasia is a topic that is so off the agenda as to be illegal so it must be whispered.

Joan: there might be in individual cases, but the person whose life it is, should have the choice of offering that privilege. I cover it because I am living that 'sabdwich' life and getting more out of it than my brothers.

Jeff (again): here is a query. Why link bullets and soft and also link lips and hard? An inversion of the normal alignment which is encouraging contributors to think laterally. In the Robbie story, if I had not talked about Glen loading the 'bullets' of rebellion, would that have covered the muse? I only added it right in about Draft 4 to make it easier for the reader.

Tom said...

loved it. the ending was superb. and you bring up some valid points.

PattiKen said...

Julie, though I didn't see the relation to the muse either, as a piece of writing, I really liked this.

I feel a little as though you have been looking over my shoulder this week. We just moved my 94-year-old mother-in-law from an "independent living" apartment into a "life enrichment" (read "Alzheimer's") unit.

It has been a horrible ordeal, and throughout, I've thought to myself: Is this what I want my life to come to? Is this what I want to put my children through?

You hit me right in the "now" with your poem.

Brian Miller said...

when it is my time, its over...i dont want to drag it out...i watched my MIL waste away for 2 years....not me...not at all...

Maha said...

I was thinking the same stuff the other day. we go on living but how often do we remember death?

Not For Jellyfish said...

While I enjoy the more straightforwardness of this poem a little more than your last, it ends up being a little dull/sad. I'd want it to be more profound/sad...

Julie said...

Yes, I can understand that. However, the entire process is unedifying. There is nothing profound about spending ones final years, drifting away. Profoundity is only for looking ahead, for deciding what to do with one's life. Death may be profound, as the living cannot see through the veil. But there is nothing profound about dying.