WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE TOMORROW?

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I knew I had only one more day to live. A few years back I catalogued the possible activities for a hypothetical last day on Earth. Surprisingly, wild fantasies of exotic travel, sex with strangers, and meetings with famous people did not make the list. Most of the things I thought one might do involved remembering things, spending time with family, and engaging in ordinary physical pleasures, such as having a favorite dinner or making love with a long-time significant other. It was really an exercise in fanciful thinking, as no one can predict when their last day alive will come (except for suicides, which represent a special case), and those who realize that it is coming very soon are usually so ill that all they want to do is lie still and avoid pain. I culled a poem out of these reflections, “The Last Day,” which China Grove published a few years ago. I also incorporated several lines of the poem into a scene in my novel, The Brothers Silver, which Owl Canyon Press is releasing in June.  

 

THE LAST DAY

Would you drink your favorite brew,
eat your favorite dinner if you knew
today
was your last day
of life,
would you
say
goodbyes, play
your favorite music, screw
your wife,
think through
your anger, would you
pine
away the ticking time
in panic, would you
chase
your last few heartbeats, rue
the time you’ve wasted,
calculate your final sums—
days
you’ve lived, hours, seconds,
number of women, number of times,
all together and in your prime,
countries you’ve seen, people you knew,
or those you remember—the rest a blur—
would you
review
your wins and failures,
phone and email last adieux,
go through
family albums
recall your kids when they were young,
recall the songs they sung,
would you
gather them round
with their children, pets on ground,
make your goodbyes,
apologize,
tell them you appreciate
and love them, forgive their strife,
say the things you have to say,
would you
bemoan your fate
or would you
pray
to your god for its merciful afterlife,
or contemplate
the terror of nothingness,
obliteration of consciousness
of yourself and others, would you sigh,
look forward to it, tired of aches and pains,
tired muscles, tired brain,
tired of watching other people die,
or maybe you would sit in a chair on the porch,
feel the breeze and sun,
watch clouds gather, watch the rain,
smell the clammy land
after thunder
passes,
watch birds bandy above,
skirt wet grasses,
start to chirp, dozens of them bounding,
in a symphony that grows so loud
that it could drown
out the sound
of death itself.

 

Marc Jampole

Published in China Grove #4 (2016)

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