In the Midst of Life

by Lise Day

The English summer drips from trees
exuberant grandchildren grow apace
death an unwelcome intruder here and now

Engineered by wordsmith Terry Pratchett
wanting not to make this journey
(terrified by early-onset Alzheimers)
last night, on TV, I watched a man die
with dignity, but in a foreign land
forced to scale picture-postcard mountains
to the End
in an alien blue corrugated house
in a garden of slushy snow
with a Swiss death-helper
he downed the barbituates
‘Be strong my darling’
to his stoic wife
brief struggle
sleeping silence.

In this academic household my daughter
crafts her dissertation ‘the gift of pain’
Radio four is constantly pre-occupied
with the problems of an aging population
a cortege moves silently down the road
from the care home opposite.

As I follow the child on a pink scooter
flying home from school
through the ancient church yard
beneath the bending yew trees
Ancient inscriptions on leaning stones
Recording other people’s deaths
I am forced to uncomfortable consideration
Of my own wish for a quiet death
But – not yet
Not yet


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