In the Company of Death

Why must we isolate the world of the dead?
This awe before the spaces incubating
the bodies of those who travelled upstream
through the dark river — what is it?
Is it from fear of incurring
the violence of death
that our hearts tremble?
That stirring the deathly sleep infects us
with an indelible stain,
a stain waxing to engulf us
and immerse us in the dark realm?
Or is it to preserve those we loved
and who under the dark arch have passed?
The bodies of those we loved,
the playgrounds of our fondest
intimacies and memories
now so fragile that a most supple breeze
scatters their dark fires
and dissolves their limbs
like wisps in the air?
To preserve them, yes,
but also to save ourselves the pain
of watching those we loved
more than life itself dissolve
as the boundless hunger of death
feasts upon their flesh.
Or it is before the unknown that we tremble,
and death being the ultimate, impenetrable mystery?

And yet, ‘die before you die’ the Sufi said.

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