Tidal Flats

handcut collage of torn strips from a beach picture with an old drawing of a taxidermy lion. White chrysanthemum flowers were added digitally.
Memento Mori

This insipid afternoon of quicksand
your memory is clawing at me
sinking and reaching for less treacherous ground
scratching at the air, because it is instinctual to fight
even when there is no hope – there are no trees
nor branches on the tidal flats
I cower from its force, sitting on the stairs
with my brow burrowed in
the crook of my arm, a temporary crevice
to hide in – then I look up ashamed
when I hear again the scuffle of black loafers
on the tiles that belonged to your old apartment building
I did not want to see it leave, wheeled out,
a black plastic bag handled with such decorum
the ultimate macabre object
or is it what is within?
your sallow skin, sunken, creviced,
worn to the thread, a taxidermy lion
would look more lively
as the blood sinks it becomes clear
that this body is nothing but a vessel
your lips wrinkled in like an overripe apricot,
but with none of its colour
they formed a final O, a gasp of awe
at the shock of when the injection stopped your heart
had you had a change of mind again
at the very last second?
the tide comes in quicker than you think.

***

Four years ago my dad lost his battle with an aggressive lung cancer. He chose euthanasia, a decision I supported fully. Nevertheless, I found it to be a surreal experience and somewhat traumatising. I wrote this poem about a year ago, when I finally found some space to think back to that day.