January 14th, 2008

work

Eulogy

Marsha Delaney Metcalfe died last month, after living with multiple sclerosis for almost thirty-five of her sixty-six years. We had been partners for twenty-three years.

This is a poem Marsha wrote in 1974, shortly after she'd been diagnosed:
Telling Death his Business
by Marsha Delaney Metcalfe

Death: your business is to swoop people away at the right moment
once,

one time to wrap us up in your cloak,
carry us off.

You have no business nibbling there at my left knee. You know I am busy
doing the dishes, and have a poem to write.

You are arrogant. You are toying with my body, and you have no right.

You have no business laughing and mocking and tugging at carefully
chosen parts, mulling me over,

a me created for your delectation.

Or perhaps you think I'm a platter of munchy crunchy fried chicken.

Would you like a breast, a thigh?

Oh! That I could will you to let me be, to take a thousand innocent
babies
or a million loved and needed parents, all just and kind heads of state,
every butterfly---

I might, I might not, I have not such a choice.

Fingers clutch at my wrist gently, lightly, not lovingly, reminding me I
go home with you.
Marsha was the most pigheaded, tactless, warm, courageous, open-hearted, alive human being I have ever known.

At the end of her life she had the use of her left arm, her left thumb, and some control of her left fingers. And she lived. She lived her life. Collapse )