Shakespeare Said It All
Shakespeare said it all,
the right man in the right place.
So, isn’t it about time I listened!
From time to time, I lift a corner of the page and peer inside!
Well, that’ll do! I tell myself.
I have put off immersion all my life.
but it seems I’ve distanced myself as far as may be
and Shakespeare’s still waiting.
I pick up the book, open it, read.
At once I am surrounded by voices,
too much simultaneity for me to handle!
It might be best to let Shakespeare come to me,
to let my hands do the work, leaf through the pages,
and then, with averted gaze, to keep on talking,
so the voices do not turn on me.
The sanatorium where they keep the dead from us, where?
A secret! Where they go after surviving death’s feint,
evidence our eyes demand.
They stand more upright after,
fill out, lose that hunted look,
become our contemporaries, every day of our lives,
but visit, say, on Mondays.
There, the deaths we have witnessed are hid from us.
We learn that what we saw with our own eyes didn’t happen
only they were taken away under cover of it
to where they grew in stature and away
so they’ve no longer eyes for us.
responding to our thoughts, our words,
but without engaging.
Where is that sanatorium for those
need no doctoring, since they are dead?
Their fate does not hang in the balance
surgical feats, wonder drugs, offering salvation.
We hear of the place from time to time.
They are let out and we question them,
or, to be more precise, their visit:
a hospice for the incurable, perhaps?
Something like that, except this is a permanent state,
and this hospice their permanent residence.
It is where they are cared for, without memories.
After the final convulsive effort to remember all.
And so, my father visits me.
He brings with him our old flat,
though its trappings have been transformed as has he,
grown taller, sturdier, coarser-grained.
And, wonder of wonder, he smokes now!
He gives the impression of a salesman who’s been away on a long trip,
in his drab raincoat, mud-streaked boots,
that fastidious man, that classical scholar.
And he carries his grievous sickness well;
one has to say it agrees with him!
He’s even putting on weight, Monday by Monday.
His coat is on, because he’s soon to leave,
travelling back to that sanatorium
a grim place for sure, but where evidently he’s gaining day by
more perhaps prison than sanatorium,
from which he’s let out on parole weekly,
where the dead gather afterwards,
as if in some antechamber, except.
This frightens me more than the oblivion we are promised.
That one’s speculations should come to this,
that after the great ordeal, we should remain in place,
if mostly kept from sight,
and let out from time to time
in our drab institutional garb,
with a packet of fags for company.
A mental institution maybe,
since death has sent us mad.
The horror of the living, as we died, has dispatched us here to die,
even after we have already died.
And so, dead, we are dying.
The sanatorium, euphemistically so called,
where they hide our dying from us
is where we are processed and remade.