When Death Comes, By MARY OLIVER
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins
from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes, like an iceberg between
I want to step through the door of curiosity,
what is it going to be like, that cottage
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music
in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridgegroom, taking the world
into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited
From “New and Selected Poems” (Beacon Press: $20; 255 pp.), reviewed on this page. 1992 by Mary Oliver. Reprinted by permission.