ANTIDOTES TO FEAR OF DEATH
by Rebecca Elson
born Canada, 1960; died Cambridge, United Kingdom, 1999
Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Till they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
But unconstrained by form.
And sometimes it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:
To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.
Death (1902), oil on canvas,
Jacek Malczewski ,1854–1929, Polish
Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, Warsaw, Poland. Wikimedia Commons.
Painting from the site of the Eclectic Light Company on WordPress