When DEATH comes to claim a writer
~ for Terry Pratchett
In the leaves, someone plays a fugue,
the Writer asks them to stop, it’s distracting
from a scene in which a wizard
pulls an ocean out of his throat.
But the music continues to swell,
drowning out his thoughts
until the ocean goes slipshod,
spilling off the page,
and Death appears saying, “SEE,
I TOLD YOU THIS DAY WOULD COME.”
The Writer laughs, “Look at this water,
it’s ruining my notebooks,
the memoirs of my life reduced
to soggy wafers of smeared ink!
How funny, I’m drowning in words.”
The ocean spews forth in waves,
his home now a gulf
riddled with furniture and floating books,
swollen like fish in the sun. He smiles
and grabs a couch cushion.
“WORRY NOT, YOUR WORDS
WILL LIVE ON WITHOUT YOU,
YOUR NAME WILL BE SPOKEN
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.”
“I’ve done it then, I’ve found the secret
to eternal life. But why does it feel
like the opposite? And where is my hat?”
Water pours from the windows
like faucets or exploding eyes,
the lights get wet and flicker and fade,
soon the waters grow still, still rising,
pushing the Writer and Death
within inches of the ceiling,
pulled by an unnameable tide.
The Writer says, “I just thought,
I would have more time.”
“THE THING ABOUT TIME
IS IT DOESN’T EXIST,
TAKE MY HAND AND I’LL SHOW YOU.”
But he hesitates, arms floundering
in the deep darkness, splashing.
Until his hand happens across
something familiar and folded,
drifting in the current like a forgotten wish.
The characters that have gathered
let go of the breath they were holding.
He pulls the dripping hat onto his head
and says, “Okay, I’m ready.”