Touch: The Journal of Healing



Copyright © 2011

Touch: The Journal of Healing

All rights reserved.

“Even the gorgeous royal chariots wear out.”

    by Risa Denenberg

A single woman plans her own death.

She means to die before her body

betrays her further. Before her sickness

consumes the kindness of caregivers.

She imagines farewells, beloved

friends gathered at bedside.

But she needs to be alone. She craves

one more good night’s sleep.

She composes her own elegy, intones

Buddhist chants. She hears a cappella,

Aeolian harps, hands slapping thighs.

She needs silence.

She is troubled, exhausted, can’t go on

suffering like this. Still, she yearns to live.

She tries to swallow this cup while begging

you to take it from her, flush it down

the toilet, tell her there’s been a reprieve.

Friends come and go, wave incense,

chant and pray, try to shape a seamless

channel. She sends them away.  Come

back tomorrow, she says.

And now the entourage is leaving—one by one—

to dogs and kids and partners. None can spend

another night at this vigil.

So it is her, alone, as she thought it would be.

As it should be. When her moment.

Comes to pass.

© 2011 Risa Denenberg

Risa Denenberg is a nurse-practitioner living and working in Seattle.