Death Legends

I’m standing on top of the red rocks that over look St. George Utah. It’s a city now, like Salt Lake, the sky a permanent oiled orange. Starlings and grease-monkey sparrows clean food-shrapnel from the streets and buckled sidewalks.

I’m dead and fed up. I sit down in the sand and lean against the rock, pressing the crown of my nose against the old stone, and whisper, Tell me your story.

The sun stops. A goose hangs overhead. Then it all reverses. The sun sets in the east, rises in the west, the city begins to deconstruct until the last lamp falls, electric cables roll up, cars all back away, and the wobbling wagons return to Missouri.  Then faster backwards.  Canyon floors return to the mesas. Natives remove their stories from the rock and migrate backwards to Africa and Asia where I suppose language began, now a simple music in the trees.

Here time stops again.  It leaves me in peace, in a land no conscious human can ever know. Its absolute quiet and stillness something I feared and hoped death would be. A far away ancient moment , before rain or wind began their permanent work. Before the continents went their separate ways and the first species lost its last memer. 

Don’t move, please don’t let time begin its theft again. The mountains and wild grasses hold their breath a little longer. But I can’t help but cry out in weeping relief, and the rains begin again, the wind talks in the grass, the sun begins its apparent westward travel. Mornings and nights come at the usual times. A river runs south, creatures come to drink and make their practical love.  In my fantasy, I stay here for twelve million years, until time returns me to my death. That will be enough I think, enough rest from the wreck of conscious living. 

I should be ready by then to haunt my former fellow humans. Sick of the loud over-abundant things, I’ll become the spirit who throws your keys down the sewer. Even the ring your grandmother gave you, and you gave to your granddaughter – I will slide it off her finger one cold morning, roll it out into the apartment building stairwell and give it to the homeless feral cat that no one sees or feeds. 

You will curse me, the way I cursed my imaginary gods, having lost all I thought there was. A wife and the parents I married into. A girlhood.  Maybe five or six lovers.  My own mother and father.  To age, naturally I hope, in time.  And your loves also, when whatever-death-is comes to take them, I will be there with the others, to greet them and sit with them around the spirit fire, trading former names, sharing everything we know about the pleasures and losses of living.  

When the life-stories end, the elders and I will add a few dead logs to the fire, and then, beginning from the youngest dead to the oldest, we’ll reveal our notes and sketches.  Everywhere we’ve been.  Everything we’ve seen and done being dead. 


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