“CAUSE OF DEATH”
It is always asked but seldom answered with any satisfaction.
Surely, there is a reason; A resolution; We must know why.
We cut up the body;
Examine the parts that some evidence might point toward.
We rely on the coroner and his breadth of experience
hacking through the body, exploring for fact—
as though negotiating an overgrown jungle, machete in hand,
in search of an ancient temple, myth, or other relic.
But the vital statistics we seek, which most often go forgotten,
are in those short bright bursts faded from the human mind
as the blood slows, trickling down with gravity;
Falling inside our bodies like cooling embers of an exploded firework.
Somewhere in life, each of us will lose our cause for life,
which becomes— in turn—our cause of death.
Often, this is reached only after our last gasp.
But some unlucky ones go on breathing for several more seconds,
minutes, hours, days, years, decades. They go on breathing
beyond their last gasp. They go on this way, without a cause;
Without hope; Without reason; They go on, falling.
You probably have known one or two like this.
The answers we seek are rarely in the scrolling credits
of a darkened hall, as the people exit.
The answers we seek are most often
in those last moments of bright light and spoken words.
Before the withering fade and sad music.
There is the story of a life; Not of a death.
The cause of death
is losing one’s cause for life
in a moment of exquisite introspection—
never before known.
It is in the identification of the hopeless inevitability
we all, at some moment, must confront.
But until then, there is the cause for life;
Finding it, keeping it, and not letting go
until we are faced, unblinking,
with that certain fact— which becomes
our reason for release;
Our reason to say only to ourselves—
“That’s it. I’m done. There’s nothing else.
I’ve earned this right. Farewell to life.”