Nearing There

‘You have twelve more years,’ read the angel. ‘Erm. that’s twelve more minutes.
What do you, I mean did you, want to do
with the rest of your life within these finite limits?’
The angel watched me take this in and stew.

‘That’s eight now,’ said the angel. I was whistling,
making mind maps of the places I should visit
if I did had time. Death’s scythe persisted chiselling
at the stump of my lifespan in a rhythm to elicit

a shiver with each chip. I was not buying.
‘It’s a dream,’ I told the angel. ‘You and Death
aren’t really here. You two have not been allying
except in those gory stories like Macbeth.’

‘Till now,’ said Death. Death grinned without a face.
‘There always is a last time,’ the angel added.
‘Don’t you mean “first”? I asked. They both embraced
my pedantry a moment. Then Death patted

my arm, that froze, and said, ‘you’re down to four.’
I sang a childhood song to show sang froid.
Death said, ‘This does not seem to be your year.
You’ve lived your life as if it were a schwa;

neutral, muddling middle, bland, unstressed.
You’ve not done aught that you must answer for
so question time’s not needed. Face stage left,
adjust your collar, try for debonair

as we get in step and march. You’re down to two.’
The angel turned the parchment page and said,
‘Well bless my soul, it was years!’ (Death withdrew.)
‘What will you do from now until you’re dead?’

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