The Protocols For Dying​

person giving comfort to a mourning woman

The Protocols For Dying​

Death visits regularly on this street.

Many of the people you might meet

have lived here for a long time,

right up until the day they died.

The protocols for dying are all

complex, even more than for living.

There is the alarum, the unseen call

to doctors or nurses or persons

who may or may not need to know

about the dying. And then,

when the dead are done, the others

come. The undertakers, dressed

in bodach black, stand reverently

at the door, hands held respectfully,

at the groin. Heads a-tilted,

they enter, gurneyed and gurning,

with the flat look of worn care

that the dead demand, and they

carry the beloved dead aloft, off

to the land of fire and brimstone,

or natural gas, whichever comes first.

Some came today, to collect the bones

of someone we had never known,

a visitor who came and went, rudely, while

a-visiting. The undertakers, ever caring,

left the doors of the discreetly marked

private ambulance open the whole time,

so the rest of the street could see inside.

The other bodies in there didn’t seem to mind.

And soon will come the angels of death,

the funeraries who live for the dead,

the ritualisers and sympathisers,

the ones who make a thing out of dying,

which is beyond all understanding,

because the thing about dying

is that it’s nothing at all.

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