Mourning by Harold M. Schulweis
Closer to the grave
The nearness changes us.
Do we think we will live forever?
Speech, acts, gestures
That once enraged seem foolish now.
Before the images of shrouds,
All shrivel into nonsense.
Before the shovel of dirt,
The sound of pebbles on the casket,
The angers and gnawing regrets
Are strangely petty.
How did the Rabbis put it?
At the end of time, when the Evil Impulse will be slain,
People will look at its corpse and wonder
That this small hill seemed so hard to climb,
That this impulse as thin as a hair was
So difficult to conquer.
Awareness of death may bring courage to live.
Knowing our mortality,
How dare we be afraid?
Before who, and of what afraid?
Before what choices do we tremble?
What questions are we afraid to ask?
What doubts will we not seize with both hands?
The wise counseled
That each of us should live as if this day
Were our last.
And if it were, each breath would be deeper,
Each step would be firmer,
Each dream would be bolder.
Standing in the shadow of death,
A brave new light shines.
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