The Last Breath

sunset-3087145__340.jpg

They say
that life can end
in the blink of an eye,
but when the last breath
whispered from his lips,
his eyes were still,
and so were
mine;

still
and
dry

~

Our
weeping children
quickly left the scene, leaving me
to tie off ends as if I were his next of kin.
Strange to think his skin no more contained
his thoughts and hopes, his good and bad,
his lonely soul, his half-arsed plans,
his generous acts, his secret crimes,
his spongy rage,  his happy days,
his lifelong pain, his crazy lies,
his shrugged-off shame,
his efforts and his
failed amends.

“Goodbye,”
I said.

~

Leaving
to attend to
our children’s needs,
I fixed my face
in an attitude
of quiet
grief.

~

©Jane Paterson Basil

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30 thoughts on “The Last Breath

  1. This is very good! We arrived right after my stepfather passed away two years ago. My sister and her daughter were there and they said it was very peaceful. Your poem conveyed quite well the death process and the grief that follows.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow – incredibly powerful words and to think you put it in such an amazing way as well. Bravo! As for the content, sometimes, in retrospect, we realize that people weren’t always only the way we see them. We see what they did or what they said, but we have never seen what shaped those words, thoughts, and actions. I always wonder about it. It’s not that I allow it to be an excuse for bad behavior or anything, but something it really promotes a lot of thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are all unique, each with our own set of needs. Even with the best psychological understanding, we make mistakes and hurt each other, and accidents happen. There is no way of knowing how anyone will react to all of the pain life throws at them, and we can’t judge a person by the little we understand about them.
      Phew – I’m not sure where that came from…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Strange to think his skin no more contained
    his thoughts and hopes, his good and bad,
    his lonely soul, his half-arsed plans,
    his generous acts, his secret crimes,
    his spongy rage, his happy days,
    his lifelong pain, his crazy lies,
    his shrugged-off shame,
    his efforts and his
    failed amends.”

    Love love these lines..I think ending with ” ‘Goodbye,’ I said.” and leaving off the last stanza would make a much stronger ending, simply because it leaves us with these remarkably strong lines as the last lines on our mind. You tell an entire story in them…xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I began this poem, it was about the need for me to be hypocritical, for the sake of my two younger children. Looking at the poem again, I agree with you, but I’m walking a tightrope, and the last lines are a message to someone, in case they’re in any doubt about the reasons for my action. This is a very constrained poem.

      Like

  4. I especially love the failed amends. his spongy rage (that gives rise to a lot of thinking) and half-arsed plans. Jane has developed her own rich array of original images here. I love that she doesn’t fall back on time-worn descriptions.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is so good because you show the complexity of the man – the truth that may be hard to speak after someone dies. He had his good points and his bad as we all do and you acknowledge both. you ‘fix’ your face and turn to help the kids – you feel his passing but don’t perhaps mourn in the same way or in a way that others might recognise. Very true, moving words Jane

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to put constraints on this poem, for the sake of my two sets of children, whose feelings are very different. Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful comments, which tell me that I got the balance right. It means a lot to me. That sounds glib, but I’m serious.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Well done you! I don’t know FanStory, I’ll try to check it out. It can be frustrating when you work hard on something and it receives no attention whatsoever, so I’m so glad this wasn’t the case. You deserve plaudits, Jane. You write with such honesty x

            Liked by 1 person

                1. My JobCentre work coach wants me to submit work for contests and literary mags (although what she really wants is for me to apply to be put in the ESA support group, since I’ll be out of her hair, and she can see I’m too much of a mess to get a job). Just thinking of submitting to anyone who could potentially give me financial reward terrifies me and makes me feel faint – as my work coach will realise when I see her in a couple of weeks 😉 She’s only met me once, and she thought the panic attack was due to shyness.
                  I hate how anxiety over-rides rationality.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. It is scary, Jane. We’re all scared of submitting our work for others to read, putting our creations out there and risking they’re rejected. Perhaps you could submit to tiny publications and competitions first? If you need someone to read over your poetry (though I really am no expert!) don’t hesitate to email me something to read. It would be a pleasure x

                    Liked by 1 person

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