Death Silences All

Poem written in memory of Mike Miller and Robina Winbush at the Service of Bereavement

Death silences all.
Even the most eloquent life falls at the end of a breath.
Every sentence eventually arrives at a period.
Stories have a deadline or run out of pages.
The symphony plays its finale, the music can’t go on,
and the vibration of the cello string fades.
Death silences all.

Death stuns us into silence
When a sentence midway in expression suddenly halts,
When a line comes to an enjambment
When the light suddenly goes off
And the musical  never gets to its denouement.
These unsuspected stops stun us into silence
For we come to realize
That every life is a parenthesis.

Death silences the living,
For what words can sum up a life that was more than their works,
More than their faiths, more than their words
And stories they told others and themselves.
The mystery of a soul is too deep for any words to sound.

Death silences the living,
For what words can console those whose ribs are now gutted,
Their days now emptied of a life that was spectacular and mundane,
sighs and laughters, jealousy and love, mess and beauty.
No words can carry the weight of an absence.

Death silences all.

But there is one
that shattered the silence of death.

It's heart drumming against the chest’s door
and sacred breath spilling back to its two earthy chambers
is sent journeying through the canal
where spirit is shaped into sound
and the Word speaks,
"Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
The Word speaks to the wordless weeping of people knowing the silencing of death.

Then the Word speaks a word,
takes just one breath to say it,
a name,
old and common in morphology
But new with every person awakened by its invoking.
A name,
a word defined by the named
A melody that accommodates a whole symphony.

The name shapes the lips of the Word that shattered the silence of death,
And the name reaches out through alone-ness
the way a father holds a daughter's hands
the way a mother welcomes her son into her body
the way a lover’s lips press the lips of the beloved
The way a rabbi calls his disciple.

The Word that broke the silence of death calls,


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