The curse of life is death and the curse of death is also death,
but my skeleton will outlast both.
My skeleton will stand for eons.
He is a spongy mountain, an iron mine.
Stoned with mellow marrow, my skeleton prefers to climb instead of recline.
My skeleton won’t be buried. My skeleton won’t be burned.
My skeleton will be left vertical, packed in vitrified remnants of me,
upside down in a dewar filled with liquid time and nitrogen.
My skeleton isn’t a mummy under glass but glassy inside stainless steel.
My skeleton is key. My skeleton is my library.
My skeleton is the permanence I seek; I’m the clothes he wears.
My skeleton in the tailor shop, thirty years from now or three thousand,
requests a change of wardrobe to match the thaw,
based on the measurements he brought.
My skeleton all new, from the inside out.
#NaPoWriMo 2017 Day 26
This week for craft class and workshop at The Writers Studio, we read and discussed the first few poems in The Best American Poetry 2016 anthology. I was inspired by these wonderful poems to try out a few of the techniques on display. “O Esperanza!” by Catherine Barnett makes use of a fun character—an inner clown—to discuss in a unique way the lofty abstraction of hope. “Turns out my inner clown is full of hope,” the persona narrator begins. The persona narrator has a lot of fun with this clown, including the brilliant line “Clowns are clichés and they aren’t afraid of clichés,” though I actually didn’t get the full joke until someone pointed it out at workshop this evening (hint: fear of clowns.) The poem lets hope reside in this inner clown character, has fun with it, and then follows additional associations to unexpected new places and a radical turn into some heavy thoughts about knowledge and philosophy, all of it made possible because the poet doesn’t approach hope in the usual clichéd, sentimental ways.
A skeleton was the first image that popped into my head when I thought about using some of these techniques in my own poem. In the first draft, I tried to emulate Barnett’s poem fairly closely and I tried to follow unexpected associations for my imagery. The poem was mildly interesting, but when I returned to it this evening, I saw that there were ways to use these techniques to talk about other ideas I’m interested in.
So this is my poem about cryonics and my choice for interment when I die. It’s made possible by a combinations of techniques that let me explore cryonics in new and hopefully unexpected ways.