Ross Gay

“Dying Is An Art”

-Sylvia Plath
Not really. Save the song
the sickle sings, we expire the same: lights out.
But what of the florid burden of living?
This one’s body craves
the bottomless caesura. Just ask his bone marrow
belting out its omnivorous hymn.
But the man’s not just a gumbo
of muscle and bones.
He’ll swim through a bog of poison
to stay on with it.
Leave the better part of most meals,
give or take an innard, swimming
in the john. And when his pimpled thighs beg
reprieve from needle pricks,
he will ask his pal to pinch and pierce the as-yet-untouched triceps.
To stay on with it.
Catch my drift? Dying’s a lowly knock-off
of the real thing: the man
who, on erasure’s edge, spears with his hands this earth,
shoves the muddy stuff in his mouth,
and chews.

Ross Gay
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Ross Gay
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse