Jane Ellen Glasser
Introducing Mr. Death
I think Death must be quite handsome,
blue-eyed, formal as Leonard Cohen
in his black suit and black fedora.
Why else would despairing women
be so easily seduced? Indiscriminate,
he courts all sexes, all races, all ages,
innocent and devilish, church-goers
and atheists, impecunious and rich.
All aboard! he calls as his train shudders,
smokes, then races down a mountain’s
iced decline. Nightly in taverns, Death
boasts he’s inscrutable. He may come
like a whisper while you peacefully sleep,
but if it’s catastrophe he fancies, he’ll
steer your sedan into a head-on collision,
or place a loaded gun in your mouth.
Oh, Death loves explosions, accidents,
a heart-breaking climax: your son floating
face-down in your backyard pool;
caught out in a thunderstorm, your
father’s electocution by lightning.
At times compassionate, he’ll authorize
euthanasia’s ride on Charon’s boat.
Packed churches with choirs and organs
are his weakness. He loves to disguise
himself at wakes or while sitting shiva
as mourners dry their eyes with liquor
and scurrilous rumors. But his favorite
settings are the hullabaloo at the lawyer’s
office after the reading of the will,
and the widow’s bedroom, the tear-stained
pillows on the suddenly too-large bed.