June 8, 2010

Sailing Alone Around the Room
Billy Collins

Black River Harbor – There is something poetic about visiting the place where I have asked for my ashes to be scattered – off the bridge at Black River Harbor in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I hope (and trust) the time won’t come for a long time, but my sense is it’s always good to be prepared. Through Billy Collins’ poems I feel I am getting to know not only life, but death, too, which is an astounding feat by an author whose work is so, well, alive. That zestful joy includes the poem, “My Number,” in which the narrator ponders a visit by Death:

Or is he stepping from a black car
parked at the dark end of the lane,
shaking open the familiar cloak,
its hood raised like the head of a crow,
and removing the scythe from the trunk?

Did you have any trouble with the directions?
I will ask, as I start talking my way out of this.


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