My Soul Delivers An Elegy For Me

Naturally we had to write this while he was alive:
All creation must converse with culmination,
just as his grandfather taught him to end
the fight with death,                  to live instead,
taught him that grief could teach him nothing –
When his hair fell out from the chemo,
and gradually his belly vanished,
arms and legs honed down to bone,
the sickness chiseling the body he had lived in
into some other form no one had known
was hiding inside –
                                    or after – him all that time,

he said, It’s just part of the process,
grew a moustache and a goatee
for the first time, as if circumstances
had given him one last chance
                                                to make something,
his fire resting into its final change
even as his universe had already turned
hadeocentric, his time moving sideways,
memory to memory, echo to echo,
as if tending to eventuality
had taught him Life does not oppose            Death
but Eternity, who in the end
must wed all productions of time.

When he passed, they rendered his ashes
to the cold water of the August lake
where his soul homed on long days of angling
for perch and sunfish that he fried and gutted,
where he sat watching grandchildren splash
and dive,
                        quietly glad to inhabit
the world he’d helped fashion around them.
The poet souleyed those settling, clouding wisps,
as if the remains had become their own
miniature universe of memories
which some still visit, living in
the space between pictures in albums filled
with his smile,            perfected with years of kind
mischief, still flashing through photographs,
still embracing the family, his masterpiece,
from his image stilled in matter,
still reaching back from the land of shades,

where I, who in dark times teach eyes to see,
trim and craft his grandson’s memories,
snipping the aching that ate the old man’s strength,
the inevitable’s dumbing presence,
the final unchilding of young minds –
Listen:            My lying simply must be done.
All life is creation.
                                    Do I contradict myself?
Go ahead. Transform without it.
Can’t you feel me looking at you as you turn
pages of visions as this lost poet did
this morning, the voices of other soulcestors
still inspiring, revising him toward me
long after their own ends, now the blank space
embracing the inkvision worlds
we’d authored together to hold the corpseyes
of the future into their deathsight –
Imagine            his two quick hands praying this keyboard,
as if by constructing my voice
he might keep me forever,                  knowing
that this is a fiction, already relenting, accepting
a life of becoming the crafting
you hold in your hands, this thing, this glimpse
of my reflection, in which the remembered
yet offer their voices, around you, inside you:

You must know your soul;
                                                you must change your life.

Michael Collins is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, and Drew University, where he completed an MA in British and American Literatures. He teaches creative and expository writing in the Paul McGhee Division, a liberal arts college within New York University. His work has appeared previously in Sunstone, Exquisite Corpse, The Inkwell, The Underwood Review, Medicinal Purposes, Many Mountains Moving, New York Arts, and Glasschord. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York, with his wife, Carol.

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2 Responses to My Soul Delivers An Elegy For Me

  1. j9epoetry says:

    I absolutely love this write. Your style is incredible. It was such a touching piece

  2. Pingback: What is the Plutonian equivalent of geocentric? [closed] - English Vision

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