ANTIDOTES TO FEAR OF DEATH
by Rebecca Elson
Canadian, 1960 -1999.
The astronomer died of illness at 39.
The Deep, 1953, oil and enamel on canvas
Jackson Pollock, American, 1912-1956. Centre Pompidou, Paris from whose website this photo.
Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.
The Substance of Stars, metal foil on masonite.
Jean Dubuffet, 1901-1985, French. Solomon R. Guggenheim, NY
Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Till they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.
Vital Abundance, oil and oil stick on canvas, 2020.
Jadé Fadojutimi, British born 1933. Baltimore Art Museum
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:
Red Sunset on the Dnieper, 1905-08; oil on canvas.
Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi, 1841-1910, Ukrainian, Russian Empire. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
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.
Untitled, 2019, ink and acrylic gouache on canvas.
Linn Meyers, American born 1968. Baltimore Art Museum
The poet T.S. Eliot (1868-1965) comments in East Coker:
So the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing.
And sometimes it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:
Body as Shell, sandstone, 2011-2015.
Alwas Balasubramaniam, Indian born 1971. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Young Man and Skull, 1896-98, oil on canvas.
Paul Cézanne, 1839-1906, French. Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.
Chrysalis of the monarch butterfly in the garden of the Woman who posts poems on her front door to be asked to post more. Philadelphia
Monarch caterpillar feeding on milkweed (Asclepias). Winterthur, DE
A monarch feeding on hollow-stem Joe Pyeweed (Eutrochium fistulosum). Mt. Cuba, Delaware
Monarch butterflies moving towards hibernation among oyamel fir trees in central Mexico.
Eastern Monarch butterflies cluster for hibernation in the oyamel fir trees of Michoacán after a journey of 3000 miles.
Their flight northwards follows Spring mating.
The non-migratory monarch has moved to other continents and, in 2009, successfully emerged from pupal state on the International Space Station.
Photo credit: BIOSPHOTO / Alamy