THE BIG THING AT THE END

The one time I ever fainted

she said

I was furious when they woke me

We laughed that laugh

when you want to hold someone

& say Yes I know yes Yes it’s awful

& it may not get better

but we laughed instead

& someone said my friend

was dying from an overdose of penicillin

& he felt nothing but ecstasy

& another said yes

my friend felt the same

when she was drowning

on a perfect summer day

& someone asked what possible

evolutionary purpose

could such a reprieve serve?

Couldn’t it all be random?

But it nagged us nonetheless

that in our final passage

we might go gently

& I noticed no one dared

to tender the possibility of

a merciful manager of

survival dispensing relief

though that is what some of us

actually believe or hope

& then our friend whose mother

had survived the camps said

Perhaps it’s not for us

but for the predator

rewarding his catch

by pacifying his prey

(who after all is caught)

hastening the transition

from creature to meal

This seemed so shocking

& apt it silenced us

on this lovely evening when

we huddled around

our civilized fire

of coffee cheese & crackers

telling stories of precipices

reassuring the tribe

with tales of great escapes

thrilling chases & close calls

which if one is honest

form the spine of all story

& I believe each of us

became aware

for the briefest moment

of that larger thing

hovering outside

in the brutal winter

& the darker dark

who occasionally listened in

on our little group

of story makers

sometimes observing

our lively heads chatting

in the golden windows

of the night

& thought

Let them talk

Let them talk their heads off

–Patrick O’Leary

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One Response

  1. Wow. You perfectly captured what was said, heard, experienced by the six of us. What a gift to get on a Saturday afternoon. Thank you.

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