This Thing We Call Mortality

When do we apprehend our mortality?
When we look into the mirror and see the same face we saw yesterday?
When we wake stiff and hurting from a night of frequent tosses and turns?
When we look to the left and then to the right and to the left again and to the right again?
When we forget the names of the flowers in the garden we have silently tended year after year?
No.

When we look into the eyes of a child and see the wonder of what is new,
When we observe the tender expression of restrained passion in the faces of young lovers,
When we look at the straight lines and right angles of buildings mounted on the graves of forests,
When we watch as friends and acquaintances of long standing drift silently by as we sit quietly here,
Then we apprehend our mortality.

April 2018

November 2012

When the water in the dogs’ dish
by the coffee shop door
is a broken chunk of ice,
encasing a single yellow maple leaf,

When a misty film grows
on the inside of the windshield
as the defroster blows moist air
that strains to clear the crystal
maple leaves of frost on the outside,

When the last rich aroma
of leaf mold and mums,
the last warm colors
of maple and aspen trees,
the valiant purple and blue asters,
have ended in an ozone of frozen air,

In a morning, in a moment it seems,
that’s when my mortality peeps
through cracks and around edges
and looks me in the eye.

November 2012

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