The Death of Socrates



For June


I pictured you like you were made of stone,

sturdy and steadfast against the storm,

your finger pointing in the air,

defiant against everything and everyone,

even God himself,

because in your heart you wanted to believe

that even death is temporary. And yet

they all looked away from you. Were they ashamed?

Could they not bear the sight of watching you

decay and whither away into skin and bone,

corroding into sinew and disappearing into tissue?

Were they as scared as I was the last time

I saw you in your hospice bed,

78 pounds of pure willpower, despite

the pain the chemo put you through. If

you could, would you have chosen to die

on your own terms? Would you have chosen

to take the chalice and drink of it freely,

letting the poison mingle with your blood,

blood you claimed was poison already?

Why were we afraid to look at you?

Were we ashamed of death? I knew

it would come eventually;

you told me it would come eventually.

I thought that looking away could stop it

from happening. Keep your arm

pointing towards the sky. Towards

something bigger than everything.

Towards an answer we so badly wanted

but never got. Towards some

version of immortality.

You remind me of Socrates.

Defiant. Proud. Unafraid.

Were you afraid of dying alone?

Were you disappointed knowing

that I wasn’t there to hold you?

To hold your cup of life a bit longer

so you could let me know that everything

would be okay in the end?



-JC