Reading The Master
(In memory of Stuart Johnston)
Last year before you died, you told me
about this book – admired its reticence,
the way it invited complicity,
embraced the challenge of tangle.
Trusting your judgement, I’m reading it now
in bed on a hot morning, noting just
how skeletal my feet appear thrust out
on the crumpled sheet in early light.
The book is much taken with observing death –
the way we watch others approach it, nudge
closer to usurp their right, while expecting
our own appointment to be deferred.
I try to imagine you perusing it
during those last difficult months,
giving it – as you gave each stray
visitor – keen, unsolemn concern.
Sooner than narrow your mind’s focus
onto your coming death, you crafted this
into a final gift, a matter for
proximate wonder, an open ending.