essay and poem
When I was in the coup, in turkey. Stuck in the airport for days with two fractured feet. i sat on a metal gurney and thought “i will die here”. US Government wouldn’t let me though....they arranged for Americans for safe passage to another country and then after, to US.
I needed this, just now. My near death was near death by a thousand cuts for most of my life. Your poem offers me a way, a survivor, to really live the rest of my life. Can't thank you enough.
Ironically, as I write this, I'm listening to a song on KBCS.fm with a line "I'm a survivor anyhow".
I have been close to death, the memory has always stayed near. Amazing poem, thank you.
Thanks for reminding us how tenuous life really is, and how we live on in our relationships.
Thanks for the restack.
was thinking just this morning about the dying friends and acquaintances, how much of yourself goes with them ... as they move into another realm. No wonder people believe in ghosts.
Yes, "this trembling world" indeed! You'll get many who offer their near-death accounts, I'd guess. Mine has to do with totaling the family car, a '56 Chevy, when I was 16. OR was it that array of imaginary deaths in combat when I was maybe 10 or 11? Holding my breath & trying hard to look dead, a dribble of spit leaking from the corner of my mouth to suggest blood . . .
On June 10, 1999, I believed I was looking at imminent death when I walked out to my small porch and witnessed a roaring 30,000 foot high smoke plume that filled my horizontal field of vision with roiling dark grey smoke and flames. I felt oddly calm because there seemed no way to escape something that vast and powerful and deadly. The gasoline from the ruptured Olympic pipeline had exploded, creating what looked like a nuclear bomb mushroom cloud. Many of us here in Bellingham were close to death that day, in close proximity to Whatcom Creek where two 10-year-olds and an 18-year-old died as a result of the fireball that raced down the creek for a mile and a half.
I imagine those three, wherever they are now, telling a story that both comforts and hurts.
Love the word irreal.
. . .poets in the gulag. ummh. Feel like many of us are waking up from a coma. Maybe a pen is our voice. Thank you Sherman.
Beautiful—great stories hardly ever leave out the pain.
Such a stunning poem--I love "trembling world." The closest I've come to dying was when a horse reared up and threw me, and I landed on my back so hard, I had no air left in my lungs and I thought my back was broken. Miraculously, though, the horse didn't trample me and I managed to revive myself and wobble home--though I always wondered if something inside was irrevocably changed.
I'm compiling an inventory of all the close calls I've had and thinking about writing them up in a poem called, "My Nine Lives."
I have hovered in a state of ill heath for many years. My face to face encounter with a possible impending death has stretched out over a long period of time as I was on life support for 18 months and then rendered into a wheelchair with unfunctional limbs and a profound sight impairment. There have been the acute episodes, like when my heart went into failure and my intestine failed, which then left me on a feeding tube for almost two years. And there have been chronic conditions which altered my living experience in ways that rendered my old life dead to me. But I never gave up hope. I found better ways to live.
Miraculously, even when the doctors told me my medical treatment was considered palliative care, meaning end of life measures, I never believed them. I banished the naysayers and dooms-dayers from my hospital rooms. I only learned recently that the expression "dooms-day" originated as a positive saying because people looked forward to the promises of heaven compared to the harsh realities of earth. I understand those feelings intimately but I never leaned into them. It gives me great peace to know that there is eternal life that surpasses this existence. It is real. I have felt it with my whole heart. I look forward to existing in that realm one day, but I do not hasten its arrival.
So far, my faith in an earthly future has never abandoned me. I have always fought hard to still be here because I feel a deep sense of purpose, and I believe that the time of my homecoming will be mercifully chosen by God. I continue to seek to live in and by divine grace, and to do so by simply and calmly meeting each day with a hopeful heart- and a sense of humor whenever possible. I have regained my abilities to walk, and to eat, and to be able to use my hands and my eyes. It has been a long slow road, and I remain grateful for a long slow road.
Walking through life with a heaven-centric perspective seems to help me to overcome my worldly challenges every time I am faced with one. My greatest strengths seem to come from somewhere else so I make sure not to take too much credit for anything. Humility can be lifesaving, as can hope.
"[T}he story that comforts and hurts" -- strikes me as the writer's mantra. A beautifully realized piece by my favorite author, dear Sherman.