When the black plague hit the Saxon army in 1340s,
they didn’t let this stop them. Instead they catapulted
the diseased corpses of their fellow soldiers directly
into the enemy camp. It worked. Within a year, half
of Scotland was dead. Half the Saxons were dead too,
but at least, they knew how to put their dead to work.
In the 1930s, in the middle of legendary circus tent fire
which would swallow almost 200 people, a little boy
with a club foot remembered his boy scout pen knife
and sliced a hole through the tent large enough for him
and 300 other strangers to fit through. He thought this
would make people see past his disability. The next day,
the headline read: Boy with Club Foot Saves Hundreds.
In 2008, the U.S. National Parks Service reported
a significant uptick in suicides with their parks.
I guess they want to die someplace beautiful, said
the parks spokesman, but this is not the answer.
The Grand Canyon claims the most suicides by far
and park rangers are now instructed to look out
for signs: notes taped to steering wheels; weeping;
the lone person staring too long into the abyss.
In 2009, I stare into the abyss of another poem
struggling hard not to include you. Obviously,
it fails when, in the last stanza, you appear,
out of nowhere, mute, nodding your woolly head.
Look, I have no dead Saxon to throw at you,
no knife to slice through your lingering everything.
I only have this poem, the one I am taping
to the steering wheel of page, swearing to you
I’m not lonely, that I don’t miss you at all, that
I was grateful when silence enveloped us both,
happy that if the “us” we became had to die,
at least it would be someplace beautiful.