Death is a long time, not in time,
But in the waiting, in the givils kept,
Intense. It is a watch that stares observance
Of the faint, tremendous fluttering
Of eyelids and the struggled breath that breaks
Again impossibly from out a wait,
Drawn long enough to be a hundred deaths.
And when it comes, death may be paler light
That casts a calm, released nobility.
And they were two that watched his misted eyes
In love so great it reached across the ebbs
Of strength and gave itself to him for ease,
And for a warmer knowledge this was part
Of life that he was keeping now, as once
He'd knelt and on a night yet clear to him,
Had taken in his arms a Child.
His spent breath sighed away and stillness came,
Suffusing on his face a look of longer
Stillness, she was watching him, and waited
In an ache of waiting for a sign
Of further wait. There were no more of signs,
And deep within her, turning like a thread
Of sound that twisted upward from a further
Depth, a certainty was winding, winding,
Stronger, wider, winding, till it whirled
And broke in inner thunder, and she knew!
She knew that he had died. Joseph . . . Joseph!
Who had come . . . but only sobbing now
Too deep and real, and shaken for the mute
Withholding, and her head was bent to him
In blessed tears.
She felt His Presence then
Who was so near, and found His hand so strong
In closing on her arm. And she had turned
To Him, and with a softer sob and older
Yearning, reached to Him and sought to give
Him comfort in return. To Him, to Him
Who wept for Joseph here as she was weeping.
And they paused, and in a little while
Looked down on him, and gently stooped to him
And kissed his hair.
Joseph was a man
Who'd marked a single measure on his life
More sure than lines he'd drawn for guilding tools.