The art of dying

27 Jan

The art of dying

This art is made
While one is waiting,

Else it’s not art,
Just a falling over dead–

And that’s not ballet,
No pas de deux.

Waiting in a large room,
And though we’re not alone

We practice our art–
Inwardly and outwardly, both.

We see each other, but
Mostly miss the signs that

Each is creating
An art of dying,

Never knowing when
The project will be complete.

It becomes more difficult,
More tangled,

When the voice in a white coat
Rings out, “You’ve been granted

More time.” No matter that
The artistic process is riven–

The time can’t be declined.
Like a great cathedral

Altered, added to
In every age,

The beauty of our art lies
Not in what we once conceived

But in the unmistakable
Add-ons time lays upon us.


When I sent an earlier version of this poem to a group of friends recently, the responses prompted revisions of the poem and further reflection. The discussion that followed will be included in my next installment–coming very soon. I’d like you to read the poem with your mind uncontaminated by after-thoughts!

The discussion raises points that were not in my mind as I wrote. In fact, the poem poured out, and I had no idea where it was going. The discussion enriched me, however, even if it wasn’t part of my original experience.

I’ll appreciate your responses.

(c) Phil Hefner 1/26/2017

2 Responses to “The art of dying”

  1. Jon Fogleman May 18, 2017 at 12:06 am #

    Thank you Phil for sharing this poem. It touches the interior life of all of us. I am reminded of St. Paul’s observation “we see through a glass darkly”. Love accompanies us in life and in death. Our “job” is learning to trust that Love and learning to be Love in the world today. Love is always evolving as part of the evolutionary process as we also are always evolving as part of the evolutionary process. Thank you, Phil for sharing your poem and inviting comments.
    Always your student,
    Jon Fogleman

  2. Liftthescreen May 22, 2017 at 2:13 am #

    Good to hear from you Jon, how right you are about trusting in love as the foundations of our evolution. Not always easy, but the central reality.

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