Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Last Passenger

Out for a sanative stroll on the deck
To fluff up the lungs with windy salt air,

The last passenger of the quarantine
Considered the suicides of the crew

Kept in windowless cabins below decks,
Driven mad by boredom and solitude.

In a way, she understood. In a way,
She was completely obtuse about it—

They were young, she reasoned, and in good health,
And surely their confinement couldn’t last

Forever. Their deaths made no sense to her,
At least not in the sense of good reasons.

And yet, by then, half a dozen of them,
An epidemic of its own, were gone,

Having either hanged themselves from doorknobs,
Jumped over railings, or downed pill bottles.

And they weren’t even sick, hardly at risk.
She watched the monotony of the waves

And thought of her own, innumerable days,
How long she’d been sick and how long alone

Before that. She tried to remember when
She’d been young. Had she been desperate then?

Yes? Why? She could only guess. Perhaps life,
Like any voyage, offers a grimmer

Prospect when there’s more of the sentence left.
She squinted out at the waves at the edge

Of her vision, now so much closer than
The horizon. No, that couldn’t be it.

People her own age were always trying
To die or to at least script an ending.

She remembered her mother intoning,
Patience is a virtue, so possess it

If you can—seldom found in women and
Never found in men! She smiled a little.

She was in no hurry to die herself,
As sick as she was, and tired of the pain.

She took a deep drag on the ocean air.
It’s when you know you’re allegorical,

Still able to move and take in the view—
If you’re ready to go, you don’t have to.

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