Sunday, April 24, 2011


Death is not a reality, but the absence of a reality. ~Thomas Merton

They say I’m not dead yet,
but surely this is hell.
Not the inferno they preach,
but a sterile hallway, narrow
and lengthening beyond
my poor eyesight.

They say at the end of it,
there is light, but I’ve  been there
and I can tell you, it’s a white wall
decorated with an oil-painted face
of God, hung to remind  me of his absence,
how even he’s abandoned this place.

They tell me it’s Autumn.
So the ginkgos must be dressed in dying
leaves, baring branches as spindly
and useless as my bony limbs.

Who cares about the senseless seasons?

Only those who want to believe
there’s a reason to live past Winter
need the consolation of renewal.

Me, I’m waiting for tardy death
and wanting them to cover the damn window
so the sun stops mocking dawn and dusk
and finally shrivels the husk of belief in hours
and days, finally sheds the pretense of light.

They say dying is the absence of living,
but I can tell you it’s merely relief
from the illusions of concrete
things, like these brick walls and
this joke of a windowed view.

So, I sit here counting on absent-
minded death, hoping it too
has not abandoned me, wanting
that welcomed embrace when finally,
finally I become nothing.

© Ami Mattison

For One Stop Poetry's Sunday Picture Prompt Challenge

Photo courtesy of Greg Laychack


  1. An absentminded death leading to nothing. Your poem makes a compelling case for hell on earth. Deep, powerful lines. Well crafted piece, resonates bold, honest, and empathetic.

  2. This conveys everything in our most fevered dreams of old age and loss of place: belonging neither to the living nor those already gone. It is full of sadness. And I think, how ironic, on Easter Sunday, to be presented with an image such as this, of a place we know exists everywhere.

  3. waiting on death...really that would be hell for me...i dont think i will wait long before i just go my own way...

  4. Time/Death is the enemy, and instead of an implacable and personal, confrontational hatred, he's full of apathy and forgetfulness, taking others and not the one who most wants to face him. Not as a cruel extension of torture, but because he just...forgot. Infinitely crueler, and an excellent reflection of what is at the heart of the sadness.

  5. I love the phrase "tardy death" Ami. You did a lovely job with a prompt that so forces sentiment rather than empathy-- I felt it was a very poor choice but have seen some good stuff come from it. xxxj

  6. you captured the loneliness, the waiting and hopelessness so well ami

  7. what can be more more heart rending than misplaced hope? waiting for death to become nothing..
    not for the solace of god and heaven or for pleasures waiting there or in the hope of uniting with the creator so so you wont be reincarnated... no this waiting for death is to become nothing.
    Well said.

  8. Powerful write, gripping the lost in our hearts, hoping the jump to nothingness comes soon.

  9. Only those who believe there is a reason to live past winter...that is the sum of seasons...each one marked as possibly last like the chapters of a book...until complete...a solid and thoughtful write...bkm

  10. They say at the end of it,
    there is light, but I’ve been there
    and I can tell you, it’s a white wall
    decorated with an oil-painted face
    of God . . .

    This cracked me up! I don't know if you intended it that way (I think you did), but these lines made me cackle in a way that was most un-ladylike.

    Fabulous turn you took with this-- cranky and sassy and funny. Absent-minded death is perfect.

  11. yo still alive out there?