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Here you will find the writings of the poet Theodore Waterfield

The Animal That Knows Death

We are the animal that knows death.
Behind every step, word,
we struggle with our oblivion.
When did I first know this thing?
In the old parchment
of my grandmother’s face?
In the blue rivers of her gnarled hands?
In the gray silver of her half set eyes,
like moons with blue halos
and flecks of stone,
of granite from the high cliffs
of her tired stare?

I’m not sure.
The dead sparrow
did not tell me,
the brown rose,
the dried body of the bee.
It all seemed so separate,
like dead trees
looming in the woods,
like furniture.
One day I awoke
and knew it.

Was it from a story my father told?
The limestone plaques
in the distant graveyard,
the moss around their bottoms,
the lichens crawling over dates
that had no meaning?

But I knew it,
and wakening,
I numbered my hours,
and drew in my breath.
Perhaps it was a fever,
the deep, cold ache of flue.
But it struck me
and I almost succumbed to it,
my youthful fancy
rent like a rag.

Someday I would die.
Not be old like my grandmother,
or tall and certain like my father.
But I would die,
and I turned my face to the pillow
unable to breathe,
and I then knew
everything would pass away,
and there was no hope,
so I became the animal
that knows death,
and nothing was the same again.

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