Bargain With Death - Poem by Elizabeth Gold
A last heartbeat should be strong and proud
emanating your life’s victories;
a footprint, proof to have walked this earth.
Mine was not.
Life called to me too soon;
I was gasping like a cobra was constricting my lungs
and it’s venom drowned my brain.
My last heartbeat was feeble at best
and my soul deserted my body.
The treatment stopped
and the white angels bowed their heads.
I was floating in dark.
Then, from the soulless abyss
emerged a man in a black suit,
clean cut with hollow eyes
with a paleness staining his face.
His boredom was evident,
death picked no favourites.
I was a grain among sands
and he had a schedule to keep.
Uncoiling his slender fingers,
he reached for the last of my light.
This is it! The last of my short, pathetic life.
Was this my purpose? ? To be the source of pain? ?
“No, ” I strongly whispered
with my words echoing in the dark.
Death slowly smiled,
his teeth cremated ash
and breath that stank of a rotten carcass.
His eyes seemed amused, as if I challenged him to a game.
“No? ” he asked, his voice hypnotizingly beautiful,
talking as if we were having Sunday tea together.
“You dare to put yourself higher than a soldier who dies at war
or mothers who die in childbirth? ”
He stalked around me, calculating,
delicately weighing the odds,
chuckling and hissing to himself, a battle within.
Suddenly his demeanor morphed;
he opened his suit
and a bird cage of ribs opened like a lion’s jaw.
Out fluttered a golden scroll
and landed in the palm of his hand.
Death unraveled it with a flick of his wrist,
waltzed behind me and hissed,
“Let’s make a deal.”
He was toying with me,
making up his own rules to this twisted game,
savoring each passing minute.
“There is a woman who is eaten by cancer, ”
Death says purring the words out as if cancer was his lover.
“Hope is foreign to her and her sanity has wilted.”
A feather pen and ink jar hovered in the air,
tickling my fingertips. Tempting me.
“I cannot spare your life
no matter how short and pathetic it is
without one being given to me in return.”
The feather now lay, in submission, in my hand,
eager for my command.
Death licked his bloody lips,
his restraint escaping with every breath.
“Do we have a deal? ”
My knees started to shake
and I clutched the feather pen until I feared it would snap in two.
My thoughts yelled at me,
each one battling to be heard,
hitting my mouth, demanding to be spoken.
Tears bled from my eyes
and I knew what I must do.
With a trembling hand
the feather pen tasted ink
and with a shameful, hung head,
I reached for the scroll.
Screeching with delight, Death drew closer.
“Shhhhh, ” he comforted
as he licked the tears from my cheek.
I clenched my eyes shut
and with a trembling hand
wrote the beginning of my name.
Loop after loop, t’s crossed, i’s dotted,
with the last of my tears, I stained the scroll,
a statement of my survival.
I finished the last letter of my signature,
sealing the Devil’s deal
and the scroll, rabid with life,
flew back into its bony cage.
Without warning, Death attacked with ferociousity.
Fingers snaked around my neck,
breath after breath, he was drowning my lungs with life!
I screamed in agony
as light leaked into my eyes
and my hunger and thirst roared to life.
Death stepped back,
licking his teeth like a lion after his kill.
Slowly, I was being resuscitated back into the land of the living,
tugged higher and higher,
out of the thick dark.
Blowing me a farewell kiss,
Death became one with the darkness,
everything but his hand inked back into black.
His bony finger pointed behind me as he faded away.
Regretfully, my curiousity burned my body,
begging to be satisfied.
I slowly turned.
And SCREAMED! !
Being dragged down
was a woman in a white, hospital gown.
She had tangled, golden hair
and a body that thrashed and kicked like a fish out of water.
She looked at me
with accusing, but somehow loving, blue eyes
and I knew with a heavy heart
that she was the payment for my deal.
A life for a life.
We reached for each other
but a breath apart;
our fingertips kissed
then bid adieu.
As she floated to the dark,
I flew to the light.
I squinted in the light,
a figure of an angel held me close.
I commanded my words to speak
but they only came out like a baby’s life saving wail.
The angel’s face contorted,
a look of shock.
She screamed with urgency,
“He’s alive! ”
“Was I dead? ” I pondered
my memories fleeing from my thoughts.
I grabbed at them
desperately trying to save them
but they were like bubbles,
popped memories, one at a time.
Then my thoughts started to escape,
replaced by more primitive ones.
My last plea was shallow,
no more than a baby’s wail,
a baby’s wail.
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