If Death Were a Woman

Written July 2011

Several years ago I stumbled upon a poem that gripped my heart, resonated with me to my core. Death is so often pictured and imagined as ugly and rough. What if Death were a woman? Just the title of the poem shifted the concept of death for me. The author, Ellen Kort, articulated beautiful images by using gentle, simple tasks that she and Death would do together to celebrate her life. After reading it many times, I found myself wondering, “If Death came to me as a woman, what would it be like? What would she bring and what would we do in my last hours?” And so I wrote my own If Death Were a Woman poem. Both the original and my personal revision can be found below. Perhaps you will also be inspired to write your own version.

If Death Were a Woman

by Ellen Kort

I’d want her to come for me smelling of cinnamon

wearing bright cotton purple maybe hot pink

a red bandana in her hair She’d bring

good coffee papaya juice bouquet of sea grass

saltine crackers and a lottery ticket We’d dip

our fingers into moist pouches of lady’s slippers

crouch down to see how cabbages feel when wind

bumps against them in the garden We’d walk

through Martin’s woods find the old house

its crumbling foundation strung with honeysuckle vines

and in the front yard a surprise jonquils

turning the air yellow glistening and ripe

still blooming for a gardener long gone

We’d head for the beach wearing strings of shells

around our left ankles laugh at their ticking

sounds the measured beat that comes with dancing

on hard-packed sand the applause of ocean and gulls

She’d play ocarina songs to a moon almost full

and I’d sing off-key We’d glide and swoop

become confetti of leaf fall all wings

floating on small whirlwinds never once dreading

the heart-silenced drop And when it was time

she would not bathe me Instead we’d scrub the porch

pour leftover water on flowers stand a long time

in sun and silence then holding hands

we’d pose for pictures in the last light.

 

If Death Were a Woman

Personalized by Ellen Sauer

If Death were a woman she’d arrive upon the cool breeze of a midnight thunderstorm. We’d stand together at the screen door and smell the rain greet the cement.

And when it had passed we’d dance gracefully around the puddles, then wildly in them.

Refreshed, we’d prepare a candlelit dinner while sipping wine and sharing our most treasured memories –

the childhood wonder of pussywillows,

that first smell of fall,

the sight of peaks across the Turnagain Arm,

and, oh yeah, holding my newborn children while they slept.

Death and I would curl up on the couch and watch a movie that made us weep from our hearts.

When the red sky of dawn had faded away we’d call my most honest and true women friends. They’d join me in laughing hard ’til tears came and I’d share with them every hope and vision and desire that had led me to myself.

Then, death would cover me with velvet and gently stroke my head and hands until the familiar rush of unconditionally loving myself became me and I entered the mystery of my next adventure.

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One Comment on “If Death Were a Woman

  1. Both works of art. I too cherished her words…and yours too!
    xoxo Becky

    Like

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