(to my Mother)
10 September 2018
By Philip Kuepper
The barge is gorgeous,
draped gold, draped purple,
intertwined wavelets of gold, of purple,
to approximate the sea,
on which it rests, waiting
for the body to be
brought to death.
Yet the far isle is enchanted,
where death is irrelevant,
where sing the Sirens Odysseus tacked wide of,
where the dead do live entranced.
No more for them mercurial flesh,
one moment well, the next,
cancerous with some ailment.
Arthur knows of where I speak,
where soothing queens attend him,
where knights no longer need
prove themselves heroic,
where awakened sleep awaits
those become tired of the finite.
Toward this Circean realm
the gorgeous barge sets out.
Her body sleeps, over the waves,
her psyche alive with memories
of marriage to the man she never ceased to love,
though dead these thirty years;
of four children, to whom she gave
of her career in nursing.
Empurpled gold, the barge fades,
the farther it nears the isle,
where waits Eternity in its seamless garment of flame,
toward which the closer she comes
finds her sleep a sleep
of ever more wakefulness.
Then, touching the isle’s shore,
she is forever.
(2 September 2018)