A Good Death

I do not know yet when I will die, or how or why, but I was invited, a number of years ago, to spell out the details of what might contribute to the picture of a good death. What do I wish to be done with my disrobed flesh? What grievances have I harbored that beg forgiveness? What resentments ask to be released? How shall I bequeath my possessions? How would I like to be remembered or celebrated? Three years slipped by, before I, on this November eve, sat down and wrote on the subject of my good death. The process, which I undertook in three 20-minute sessions of free-writing, was a reckoning with my mortality: an acknowledgement of the inevitable and a practical consideration of baggage – where, how and what I would like done with what is left of me when I leave. Such a basic and natural thing I don’t think should be left unconsidered on the principle of youth and good health. Because I do not know when death will take me. 

Invocation of the Water Dragon

I tend the dragon lair : the solar plexus, so that she will visit often. She, silver and moss-scaled with copper-plaited claws. I call and she rises like a strange burnished planet, with blue-gold fire that arcs like a comet. Up from subterranean caves, up from glistening stalactites and the reverberating voice of water, up from salt and emerald weeds. She rises, coiling and uncoiling again.

She unfurls her jade wings, twisting and roving with her serpent's neck: transparent, veined and scored with deep vermilion branches. She enters me. Fills me. Expands beyond me,  rippling like ocean waves under a midnight sun. She casts herself in ten directions, radiating mist and heat. I expand with her. Rearing up, silver and moss and copper plates hung with emerald, flashing jade.

When I am shrinking, I call her. When I am fearful and overcome with shame, I summon her.  I feel her rise within me and I move as she: swinging with seaweeds, scintillating, radiant, potent, head aloft like the crest of a sail, amber eyes gleaming with the wisdom of the ages.