Death in two parts


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I. Death is an empty place


The heart dies first, emptying slowly until its fragile shell sits silently in your chest. The lungs resist, hungry as wolves in winter, biting after the air, until they starve, buried in the noiseless snow.


The ragged-edged knife of sorrow scrapes the bones clean. Despair burns the bones to ash, washed away by what tears are left. The rest follows until you are hollowed out, your body weightless, floating through the world, tethered against your will.


The dreams are the last to go.


Only the echo of your voice remains. Your family, friends, and acquaintances fail to mourn you. They cannot tell the living from the dead.


But you know.


Death is an empty place.




II. Rising from the dead is harder than it looks


In death you grow fond of silence. You rest in the stillness, free from pain or want.


If you could only close your eyes forever, you could remain in that emptiness. But the world lies in wait. A leaf splattered with red and green falls and when you stoop to touch it, the sun’s fire scorches your hand. Longing with its pain enters you, furtively like a thief. The moon waits for you behind a hedge of cloud, reaches out and holds you like an old lover. Its soft light cleaves the darkness. In the distance, you see hope and turn away. Too late. One by one memories trudge back, dragging promises to fill the empty room.


The lungs resist breathing again. You dread that old hunger, the desire for air that can never be satisfied. Every breath seeks another and another.


Life abhors a vacuum; it forces its way back in. The daily meals, the work, the cleaning, the bills, the neighbors, the care of children, they all crowd into you, jostling for space, clumsy and needy. They crush that empty shell of a heart. You spend the rest of your life trying to put it back together again, looking for the pieces. It will never be the same. When your misshapen, patched-up heart finally beats again, you cry, because you know the heart is always the first to go.



27 thoughts on “Death in two parts

  1. One of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever read. When you tell a story, the birds stop their chirping, the cats their meowing, the dogs their barking… and we hold our breaths… trying to digest the truth.

  2. “When your misshapen, patched-up heart finally beats again, you cry, because you know the heart is always the first to go.” – I loved this line … it unknowingly and poignantly conveys all emotions

      • it’s always a pleasure and a delight to read your works, ms. yearstricken. i hardly did justice in my comment… love this piece of yours and am thinking of reblogging it (if it’s alright) within the year and also what you wrote a long time ago – about why you write. i also adore a dozen more of your posts, ahaha.

        this composition of yours resonated here. i think i have died a couple of times already and you described the process so aptly. many thanks… 🙂

  3. I tried to comment on this one before, and couldn’t. This time around I couldn’t blame it on WordPress. I just don’t have the words. I still don’t have the words, so all I can really say is that I saw your words, and quietly absorbed every syllable. This would be one of those times when I just watched, and listened. Struck dumb, in a good way.

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