I’ve been working on a short story tentatively titled “13 Ways of Looking at Dying, Just Before, or the Moment After.” It’s based on a blog post I wrote here last November. I’m re-blogging now to allow me more time to work on the story. I consider it one of my finer posts. Both the post and the story owe something to Stevens:
From Wallace Steven’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling Or just after.
The deer fleeing for its life turns to look at me with my mother’s eyes. Dark fierce eyes, bitter-bright, locking onto mine. Not letting go. She’s not looking for help or pity or comfort. Or escape. She knows there’s no escape. That dark gaze locked onto mine wants but one thing. A witness to its passing, its inevitable and terrifying end.
I never actually saw the deer that night. It was too dark. I only heard its pounding hooves passing behind our home, its terrified scream splitting the night. But I “see” it nonetheless. For days, weeks, afterwards, even now, I see it. Screaming past me with my mother’s eyes. I’d watched her passing too. Her inevitable and terrifying end.
It came quickly. Late June she was diagnosed with cancer. By October she was gone.
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