Death is Not One but Many
by Ute Carson
New Reader Magazine NRM, Issue 10, Summer 2020

None of our animals dies afraid.
A vet comes to the house
where our old cat gets her sleeping potion
while curled up on my lap.
Our ancient mare sinks to her knees
between brush strokes while munching carrots.
But what of the dog hit on a busy road
with no one there to end its misery?
And on the human spectrum, who doesn't envy
the composure of a Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
walking unshackled to the gallows,
face tilted toward the heavens?
And yet, what about the little girl in the desert
crouching at her mother's side begging, "Mama wake up!"
when a sip or two of water might have saved her?
Or captives, hands bound and heads pushed to the ground,
pleading in vain for mercy from vengeful swords?
The German poet Rilke wished for every person
a death of their own following a life well-lived.
Death as surcease, accidental death, death as fruition,
needless death, malevolent death.
Death is not one but many.

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