This is Why You Have to be Dying.

The man in the car at the stop sign in front of you has better things to do than wait all day for you to make a decision but it no longer matters. You can still use your hands, and get out of the bed in the morning, and you can go to the bathroom all by yourself. Everything you ever wondered at is still wonderful and all the colors and the textures you fell in love with as a child still sing their sweet songs, to you.

Every breath is like a chocolate cake baked by grandma and the candles don’t stop burning. You marvel at the miracles that are your fingers as if you were an infant born into a body fully grown. You realize you are soft and supple and perfectly broken-in, with a warm brown patina all over except where the pocket is dark from ten thousand fly balls caught on the run, and you smell like a saddle, and you can still see your name there written in the hand of a child, blurred from the rain-outs, but still readable in old Bic-pen-blue. And all the  words that were ever spoken by others in their anger have fallen off your branches like pine needles and you walk barefoot now on the soft forest floor where everything that hurt you is muffled and will always smell like Christmas.

All your movement is ballet. You can dance on the tips of your toes forever, now. It won’t be long, but long cannot be measured by hash marks or the revolutions of hands stripped of fingers. It is the other hands that matter. How you hold a paintbrush, how you work the awl. The way you brush the tip of the pencil across the surface of the paper at a slant to reveal an image has never been seen before, by anyone. How you hold the ball-peen hammer, how you grip the handle of the cane that steadies you, sort of an artificial third leg to prop up the shaky birth-members weakened by the processes of preservation and prolonging. Because you are living in the imminent knowing.

The library book is due. But the story is slowing. You take it one succulent word at a time, sucking the ripe red fruit down to the pit. Everyone is trapped inside their cars and traffic’s moving at a crawl. All the steadfast faces in the windows are watching the road, their hands grip the wheels, they are only a few feet from away from you, the faces, but they all seem to be dreaming, oblivious, alone, serious as soldiers in their stop-and-go syncopations. A man up ahead wants to get into your lane. He wants to go before you. He wants to be in front. Who is the dying one? Who is it trapped in the amber of time? Not you, any longer. You can arch your back and spread out your dragonfly wings to rise up from the nymph-world. You let the car in. You yield to the illusion of machine. What to wear is no longer of any concern. You stand naked in your clothes.


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