Death Indeed Is Long

I read somewhere (I know exactly where,
but let’s keep it casual) of a vision
of the afterlife in which you’d be condemned
to live out every slice of life in stolid chunks:
six months on the toilet, twenty years asleep,
six years eating and forty taking in a breath.

But how do you divide a life,
when every moment’s made of moments?
Ten years drunk as hell, or twenty getting there?
Left leg in left leg out, or left-right left-right
until your legs give out?
This is how we’d live forever,
splitting out the atoms of our days,
spitting out the same hot little pips
along a tortoise-trail on sore and sunburned feet.
Life piled high on life, an expansion
of life to airy thinness beat.

Our lives, it turns out, would be divisible,
endlessly, infinitely divisible.
But these lives built of stalled or stuttering animations:
every stillborn a petal endlessly unfurling,
every itch become an obsession,
every hand shaking violently as it courses
again, again, and then again again
the inch between a bottle and some lips.

 

by Joshua Clayton

 

Joshua Clayton holds a BA and an MPhil, both in English, both from the University of Bristol. He has recently written a book of literary criticism—about dead birds, primarily—for which he is seeking representation and publication. He maintains a blog, Fall Souls, where longish essays on poetry are standard fare.

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