Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Of Mice and Man

September 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Main Blog

I’m reminded that there is a beauty in death that can be overlooked because of the grief experience. The grief takes over and we see and hear nothing else save feel the overwhelming tsunami of pain that comes from a crystal clear understanding that our loved one will not come home with us tonight. That moment is more heart-wrenching than any other.

The beauty, though we don’t realise it at the time, is in the humility with which our loved one accepts their destiny. For us who remain living, it is as if we walk into that ‘dark night of the soul’. Yet we emerge into the light unlike our beloved. And it is us that have the smell of death about us. It haunts us, not them. They accept their lot. There is a disarming beauty in that.

Theodore Roethke wrote:-

“In a shoe box stuffed in an old nylon stocking
Sleeps the baby mouse I found in the meadow,
Where he trembled and shook beneath a stick
Till I caught him up by the tail and brought him in,
Cradled in my hand,

A little quaker, the whole body of him trembling,
His absurd whiskers sticking out like a cartoon-mouse
His feet like small leaves,
Little lizard-feet,
Whitish and spread wide when he tried to struggle away,
Wriggling like a minuscule puppy.

Now he’s eaten his three kinds of cheese and drunk from his bottle-cap watering-trough
So much he just lies in one corner,
His tail curled under him, his belly big
As his head; his bat-like ears
Twitching, tilting toward the least sound.

Do I imagine he no longer trembles
When I come close to him?
He seems no longer to tremble.

But this morning the shoe-box house on the back porch is empty.
Where has he gone, my meadow mouse,
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm
To run under the hawk’s wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm-tree,
To live by courtesy of the shrike, the snake, the tom-cat.

I think of the nestling fallen into the deep grass,
The turtle gasping in the dusty rubble of the highway,
The paralytic stunned in the tub, and the water rising,–
All things innocent, hapless, forsaken.”

He made death sound so final and yet? And yet. That is the thing isn’t. Perhaps what it really is, is that we are missing in action for just this moment in time. What do you think?

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