At noon, your only friend will spread your ashes under a birch,
or teeter above the cavity of your grave at dusk, or maybe
she'll just dump the whole pile of you into the Susquehanna at dawn.

You'd be more animated knowing there will someday
be an end to this pandemic, if that end had come soon enough
to save you, but your timing has always been a bit off.

It's more complicated than life and death. Covid has allies
and ancestors who taught him well. They are heartless
and insistent. Like Diabetes who first darkens a few toes,
followed by clean amputations.

Then he takes the leg above the knee and the other
leg, too, just because he can. He's always been
ravenous, never satisfied with just a sample.

We learn from our ancestors, whoever they are, whatever they teach.
Forefathers know so much. Remember Polio handing down breathtaking
lessons to the children sitting at his feet? Laughing at iron lungs?

Don't forget the allies who heartlessly hung humans as casually as laundry
from trees. The trees never asked for the additional weight.
Now their disciples kneel on necks as if they're waiting
for a bus with all the time in the world.

None of this is new or old. So, for now, your ashes
will be exiled, piled on top of your ancestors,
or carried off by the winds of your enemies' allies.

And for another hundred years, we'll recycle these deaths
over again and again and over. Maybe next time you'll
be someone's ancestor, maybe next time, someone's ally.



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