W. D. Ehrhart  

Seminar on the Nature of Reality

for Tom Deahl
    I’ve never seen a person dance with death
so gracefully before. As if you were—
not rushing to embrace it, not enthralled,
but fascinated, ready to explore
this new phenomenon the way a boy
might wonder at a frog he’s caught or stand,
head cocked, before a tree he thinks he’ll climb.

Geez, you’re dying, and you act like this is
just another challenge to be mastered.

Most of us fear death. Consider Hamlet
and his dread of something after death
so strong that we would rather fardels bear
than face the undiscovered country
from whose bourn no traveller returns.

Yet here you are, a twinkle in your eye,
telling me about the hospice music
therapist who sang for you today
and how next week you’ve got a physicist
coming here to lead a conversation
on what is real and what is not and how
when things are very large or very small
they don’t behave the way we think they should.

You can hardly walk, you can hardly talk,
you can’t even breathe without oxygen,
and still you’re organizing seminars
you might not even be here to attend.

Maybe this is what you are: so large
a mind, so very large a heart that you
just won’t behave the way we think you should.

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    Copyright © 2002 by W. D. Ehrhart
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