Where are you, Sarah?

My sister slept and the crows
came to ask cawing in my ears,
Where is she? Where is she?
And I could only answer with tears,
and I could only answer with fire in my throat
and an unbearable mountain
weighing down my chest,
a wail finding no shore,
an endless stream of memories
clawing at my skin
and hurling me into the sky
formed by her smile,
I could only answer with vagrant eyes
and an uprooted heart
now a feast for crows
cawing without respite,
now a feast for a flame
burning, burning…

Death Alone – Pablo Neruda

There are lone cemeteries,
tombs full of soundless bones,
the heart threading a tunnel,
a dark, dark tunnel:
like a wreck we die to the very core,
as if drowning at the heart
or collapsing inwards from skin to soul.

There are corpses,
clammy slabs for feet,
there is death in the bones,
like a pure sound,
a bark without its dog,
out of certain bells, certain tombs
swelling in this humidity like lament or rain.

I see, when alone at times,
coffins under sail
setting out with the pale dead, women in their dead braids,
bakers as white as angels,
thoughtful girls married to notaries,
coffins ascending the vertical river of the dead,
the wine-dark river to its source,
with their sails swollen with the sound of death,
filled with the silent noise of death.

Death is drawn to sound
like a slipper without a foot, a suit without its wearer,
comes to knock with a ring, stoneless and fingerless,
comes to shout without a mouth, a tongue, without a throat.
Nevertheless its footsteps sound
and its clothes echo, hushed like a tree.

I do not know, I am ignorant, I hardly see
but it seems to me that its song has the colour of wet violets,
violets well used to the earth,
since the face of death is green,
and the gaze of death is green
with the etched moisture of a violet’s leaf
and its grave colour of exasperated winter.

But death goes about the earth also, riding a broom
lapping the ground in search of the dead –
death is in the broom,
it is the tongue of death looking for the dead,
the needle of death looking for thread.

Death lies in our cots:
in the lazy mattresses, the black blankets,
lives at full stretch and then suddenly blows,
blows sound unknown filling out the sheets
and there are beds sailing into a harbour
where death is waiting, dressed as an admiral.

— Pablo Neruda, From Residencia en la Tierra, II, 1935, translated by Nathaniel Tarn

Again I Woke Last Night

Last night I woke again suffocating,
again I was with you in that awful room as you passed away,
the cold whiteness of the walls, your clothes, and your face
burning me with an insatiable pain.

Again I woke last night
and the darkness was a vast sea
crushing my chest, deafening my ears
with the lugubrious roar of your dwindling breath,
your suffocating pleas as you faded and sank into the nether,
into that dark place where I cannot follow without killing myself.

Again I woke feeling my throat burn
as though a river of fire were gushing through,
fiery spikes peeling at the flesh
as my tears fell to water the image of your face,
your warm and happy presence which I’ll never feel again,
your love which cradled me flesh to bone, heart and soul.

Again I woke and I tried to call you
but my voice faded like a sun that will not give light,
the fresh and tremendous pain of our parting
again heaving inside of me
even deeper than that first moment when you died,
tumultuous waves crashing against the walls of my skin on the inside
and ebbing back into my core as they failed to break out.
My skin grew transparent swallowing the whole blackness of the night
as again I sank into my pillow
like a stone falling through dark waters and calling, calling,
bubbles finding no surface on which to burst,
a mute voice echoing inside no ears but my own,
a black earth failing to burn even with the smallest firefly.

I could do nothing

“Pierre, I don’t want to die,” she looked at me and said, an unspeakable look in her eyes, and I sat there, helpless, unable to do anything, unable to save the life of the one person I love most. I couldn’t save her, I couldn’t, and now she is forever gone, now I will never again see her or hear her voice, feel her next to me. “No one other than you will ever know who I really am,” I told her, true she said, no one will. No one will ever care for me as much as she did, read me like an open book. “Will you name your daughter after me?” she asked, “no, because you’re not goanna die, you’re not going anywhere; together forever as we always said,” I replied to her.

A week later she passed. And as she laid there suffocating I had to sit right next to her, accompany her as she died, hold the hand I’ll never feel again, contemplate the eyes I’ll never again see open, the mouth that will never speak, trying to memorize as much of her I could. She laid there suffocating, and I could do nothing. At night when I sleep her suffocating breath is all I can hear. The person I love more than life died in front of me and I could do nothing, nothing…

Then I had to kiss her cold forehead, feel her cold face and hands. Eyes closed, I talked to her and she didn’t speak. The body and person I so intimately and deeply know now cold, lifeless. That was the last time I saw her. Now the rest of my life I’ll spend missing her, as though my own heart is torn away from me. I cannot even begin to tell you about the immensity of this pain.

You went away from me

How can oceans pour
through the narrow eyes?
You went away from me,
a burning arrow piercing my heart
then vanishing into absence,
into the fog of mystery;
you went away from me
and my eyes knew
how the endless waves can pour
through their narrow openings,
their salt etching bitter flames.
Now my eyes know,
and my whole being trembles
like an earth trampled
under the wild feet of grief,
relentlessly beating.
You went away from me
and the silence engulfing me sobs
like a rootless fire
besieged by a dark sky,
my heart pleading
for your return,
for your touch that is home.

Rumi, The Death of Saladin

You left ground and sky weeping,
mind and soul full of grief.

No one can take your place in existence,
or in absence. Both mourn, the angels, the prophets,
and this sadness I feel has taken from me
the taste of language, so that I cannot say
the flavor of my being apart.

The roof of the kingdom within has collapsed.
When I say the word you, I mean a hundred universes.

Pouring grief water or secret dripping
in the heart, eyes in the head,
or eyes of the soul, I saw yesterday
that all these flow out to find you
when you’re not here.

That bright firebird Saladin
went like an arrow,
and now the bow trembles and sobs.

If you know how to weep
for human beings, weep for Saladin.

Haiku # 139 (to Sarah)

Yasmina,
unborn child,
how she loved you!

~

On her deathbed,
a white flower
in the mouth of hell.

~

Winter dawn,
her closed eyes
forever dark.

~

The new teacup,
will it ever
touch her lips?

~

Winter sunset,
my bones
your cold altar.

~

My one and only sister, Sarah, the one I love most in the world has been fighting cancer for almost four years now. Today she lays on her deathbed, dying at twenty seven of age. The cancer spread into her lungs and it’s only a matter of time now. I have never loved nor have I been loved by anyone in the world as much as her. No one cares for me as much, rejoices for my joy, weeps for my sorrow. No one knows me as deeply, better than I know myself. No one believes in me as much. Today she lays, a prey to death after a long and painful journey. I wish her to depart quickly and soon for she has suffered enough. This pain burning and twisting in my heart…no words could ever describe it. I love you more than life itself Sarah, more than myself.

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She always wanted to have a daughter and to name her Yasmina. Her favourite name. She loved her and wanted her with all her life. She got married to the love of her life one year into her sickness. They were in love since their teen years. Yasmina would’ve been the fruit of their love.