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June 10, 2024

My Little Life

By Sand Pilarski

The Vizier removed the cord from the throat
and admired the silken strand,
"They say that the greatest pleasure comes
when breath is short at hand."
So this one died with pleasure!
No one has cause to grieve.
We'd all like to die with pleasure
As our spirits take their leave.

The Ascetic, pulled from his small stone cell
Said, "Fasting is good for the soul.
When you fast to extremes you see wonderful things.
Starvation has a spiritual role."
So this one died in holiness!
No one has cause to grieve.
We should all see visions of holiness
As each of us takes his leave.

The Dungeon Guard sheaths his dagger
and washes his hands of his work.
"Their tendons cut, they cannot move
To feed themselves, or drink, or jerk."
So these will die in crumpled crouch
They'll never be whole again.
They'd never want to live like this --
No, not like crippled men.

The spokesmen said it wouldn't hurt
To die of hunger and thirst,
But to live in the care of those who loved?
Now that would be the worst.
For they knew that the body that seemed to smile
Was only shamming with brainless guile
Pretending to see and gurgle while
Legalities came first.

"If I couldn't walk, or eat, or talk,
I'd rather die," they said.

"If I couldn't see or watch TV,
I'd rather die," they said.

"If I couldn't dance or draw a glance,
I'd rather die," they said.

"If I was poor, with no future,
I'd rather die," they said.

So the paralyzed body was left to starve, to let its breathing fail.
It could not speak, nor dance, nor walk --
They assumed it had no reason to live
And certainly had no profit to give.
And what though its relatives weep and wail,
The strong and the healthy provide the talk,
"Surely it would be happier dead --
If it could have talked it would have said,
'I'd rather die,
I'd rather die.
When my breath stops I'll feel pleasure,
when my blood stills with hunger I'll see treasure.
With my cramped, crippled hands I measure
The time until I die.'"

I have no riches or beauty, but
Will someone tell me why
My little life is not enough:
Why should I want to die?

Originally appeared 2005-11-14

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-11-17
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