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Last week (or perhaps it was the week before? This month, overheated and damp, has been one in which the days have melted heavily into one another) I found on my red-slated back patio the fragile feathered body of a small bird. It was a limp thing, abandoned both by the cat and whatever little animal spirit had once animated it, and I prodded it dirtward off the stone with a sneakered toe.

This morning (such a still morning, such calm air), looking out through the window, I saw a flutter ripple across the forgotten wings. Oh! Outside I go, curious, to peer more closely.

The bird was dead, of course, still. Its feathers had already begun to grow into the ground; its breast had already opened to and connected with the earth below; still, its small carcass, horribly and wonderfully, was moving– maggot-fat and warmer than when I’d found it.

What is terrifying about death is not that it is an end, nor that it ends, but rather that life, thoughtless and unstoppable, continues, and continues, and continues, hungrily devouring the emptiness.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love this perspective!

    Ooooooh, life! life! life! It is so grand and so vast. Beautiful, unquenchable, powerful and unceasing. Life is my goddess.

    May 29, 2010
  2. Sharyn #

    I SEE LIFE AND DEATH BOTH AS BEGINNINGS AND ENDS. WE MOVE FROM LIVING, INTO ANOTHER LIFE THAT TAKES US TO ANOTHER START. WE LIVE HOW WE THINK. IF WE THINK DESTRUCTIVE THOUGHTS OUR LIFE IS THE SAME. THINKING POSITIVELY MOVES US FORWARD AND WITH HOPE!

    May 30, 2010
  3. Glittering Dead
    1
    Is there any wonder luminous the world arises? We ourselves arising luminous with the world? Any doubt that dressed with the dead, not death but the dead, our very own dead, that any contact, in which is included that physical, reveals the fiction of self or any other? The sham of history is that divide, whether space or time. We are not on the verge, but still and quiet within the very midst of the dead, their ever-present
    rustling within and around us, the incessant struggle we call life which is, perhaps,
    nothing more than the glittering of the dead. And once again, if for but a moment, still and quiet can we conceive that the dead conjecture life free of death? Death having been effaced with that of the divide which proclaimed but falsely the opposition known as being and for which we have answered in scars and pain.

    2
    All of our contact, physical, with the world is not directly through the living but mediated by a thin layer of the dead, not death but the dead – skin, hair, mucous etc.. We are not singular, not individuals, but colonies, communities in which death is ever present. ‘Our lives’, without doubt, are renewal, but integral to such continual rebirth is that of perpetual and recurrent extinction, both that instigated by ingestion, as well as that common exhaustion which passes as time or duration. We appear founded upon a nothingness, a nothingness which engenders endless miracle and fascination, as well as awe and fear. Looking away from it, we marvel; approaching it, we tremble. But what if we simply recognize it as the essential it apparently seems to be?

    3
    For life is diminished by death. One might say dwarfed. Not in the sense of quality or the riveting of the fear and awe. But through simple duration. Death seems an eternity, whether or not, and hence closest to the divine. From this point of view life will always bear an element of betrayal, and is difficult to forgive.

    May 31, 2010
  4. Liz Stevenson #

    Your ability to write just what you want to say—no more, no less—is the rarest thing on the internet. No half-obscured, self-conscious posturing, no verbose lecturing. Just the pure simplicity of what you have to say. I fucking love it.

    May 31, 2010
  5. Sharyn: In my mythology, life is inclusive of death; the opposite of death is not life but birth. Life is the broader near-whole.

    pensum: God that was beautiful. Thank you. That final sentence alone was such a sweet and sharp reminder.

    Liz: It–writing, I mean–has been oddly challenging, recently, which is strange. I’m out of practice and the longer I wait the more weight each post seems to carry. It’s an imagined pressure, I know, but one nonetheless. So thank you for that implicit urge.

    June 3, 2010

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