Census Taker of the Soul

For Irv Weiman
—J. Redwing Keyssar

Somewhere between cerulean and midnight
A quarter-filled bowl of light
Floats in the ethers above the twin peaks.

Below, in a pastel pink room
In a full nursing facility
A scientist floats in and out of consciousness
Between this world and what he calls “the great universe”

“It is hard,” he says in his coarse and muffled voice, “this dying”

He is still asking questions.
He wants to know what Einstein thought when he was dying
Or Jack Benny
I recite Woody Allen’s line: “I’m not afraid of dying
I just don’t want to be there when it happens”
He laughs,
“I wish I had said that.”

I ask, “what is it you are thinking, as you lay dying?”

“That this is all such a puzzle, “ he answers

“Someone came and asked me questions
About my childhood, my life
I was surprised
By how much I remembered.
He was a census taker of the Soul”

Indeed we play at the jigsaw puzzle
Pieces of our lives scattered around us
Never knowing until the very end
which tiny piece
will complete the picture
That is ours alone

Somewhere between suffering and silence
We understand the significance
Of the drops of water that comprise the ocean
How each star is needed to complete the universe
And each breath, one after the other
Comprises a life

—J. Redwing Keyssar
February 18, 2010

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