Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960


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in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

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Death, Dying, Grief, and Mourning

in Western Literature


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Adam Zameenzad, My Friend Matt & Hena the Whore, 1988  


Death of Golam

End of the Line – Death of Golam

We’ve been traveling — Golam and me — with the lost caravan of the sick and the burnt and the hungry.
We are going somewhere. We don’t know where.
We’re just walking. Dragging ourselves bit by bit.
We don’t know where Alberto is. We don’t know where anyone we know is.
To tell the truth I don’t know where Golam is
I look at the skelly next to me.
He is bald. On his head, instead of thick bouncing hair, is a
big many-mushroomed boil. In his mouth are rotting gums
instead of flashing teeth. His silky black skin is dry and
flaking in parts, wet and leaking in others.
We are not walking anymore.
Golam can’t make a step any longer.
To tell the truth I can’t make a step any longer.
I’d rather be anywhere than here — even Pasadena,
California, USA
—but I can’t make the effort to go anywhere.
Poor Tom. He had only two balls after all.
I try to look at my balls. It seems like I haven’t any.
Funny that.
Leastwise I think it is.
I try to smile, but my face is too stretched and hard. I think
It will crack and fall to bits if I smile.
Golam lets out a little squeal and a little shit and dies.
I thank the Spirits.
I want to carry Golam’s body to hide under a bush, but I can’t.
I try to drag him. I can.
But it’s not easy. I have to first drag myself — it’s easier than
Walking — then pull him across the sand.
It is an ocean of sand. I can see the bush. Like an island.
It is always the same distance away, no matter how near I get to it.
I give up.
There’s not much point in getting to the bush anyway.
It is better if buzzards get Golam here. At least he’ll provide food for them.
I take his robe off, tidy its tatters and place it over his body.
The wind blows it away.
I wish I could mark a little cross next to his body.
I know Golam hasn’t had his soul saved, but I think he’d like that.
Leastwise that’s what Matt would’ve done.
There is nothing to make a cross with.
I lift a handful of sand and sprinkle a cross on Golam’s chest.
The wind blows it away.
Then I have an idea.
I wipe some of the shit off Golam’s legs. It is still warm and fresh.
I make a shit cross on Golam’s chest.
It stays there.
The blood in the shit makes it look real pretty.
I put my head on Golam’s chest, a little to one side, so as not to disturb the shit cross. I put my arms across his waist and lie down next to him.
I remember wanting to do that years ago.
I go to sleep truly happy.

My Friend Matt
I am woken up by my friend Matt. ‘Wake up,’ he says in the gentlest voice I’ve ever heard. ‘Wake up. The time has come.’
I stretch and curl at the same time, like a cat; contented and happy.
‘The time has come for you to take over,’ says Matt.
‘You are now the Earth; and the Earth is yours.’
‘I’ll shine on you when you are dark.’
‘I’ll rain on you when you are thirsty.’
‘I’ll smile on you when you are happy.’
He ruffles my hair and smiles.
His tears fall like dew on my face. The dew turns to rain.
Gentle rain.
Like dew. Like Matt’s tears.
I look up at Matt. It is raining a gentle rain outside.
It is falling on everything I can see.
My heart fills with joy.
I smile at Golam, at Matt, at Hena.
Dada puts his arms around me. Mam gives me a hug.
I feel like a flower.
I feel like grass.
I feel like a tree.
I feel like a tree again. And why not? After all, our family are
Spirits of trees.
Ask Grandma Toughtits if you don’t believe me.


Adrienne Nater, 2008

©© 2008 Adrienne Nater. All rights reserved.