Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Taking the Confession of the Angel of Death

by Jean Jones

The other night at a reading,
the Angel of Death confessed to me.
She said during my reading, "You have no idea what death is about,"
as if she did, and I realized, she did.
She had death all over her, death in her eyes,
her breath reeked of death.
After my reading was over,
she looked at me: "Tell me about your death," she said,
and I told her about how I acted when my father died.
I told her, "You and I, we know about death. We've seen it.
These others have no idea what dying is about.
We've been in the presence of the dying.
We've been glad for death to do its work,"
and she nodded and cried, looking right in my eyes.
"I have no secrets," I said, "I have nothing to reveal.
Nothing but the fragility of life afloat on a sea of death."
And she looked around, and she saw what I saw.
"Confess all your secrets to me," I said, "I will share them with no one,"
and she did. She confessed how she dreaded and rejoiced when her husband
died after eight years of care she had given him.
"Take my arms and realize you and I are guilty survivors," I said.
"We deserve death but we are not dead. We are condemned to live."
"How can you take it?" she asked. "Day by day," I said.
"My father has been dead since 1996 and something will remind me how much I miss
him, like when a dog I had taken care of was taken away from me by animal control,
and I couldn't stop crying. I was thinking about my father."
She looked at me with those angelic, brown, death like eyes of hers.
"Will it ever end?" she asked. "Never," I said, "never. The feelings never
end. When my father died, I died with him, I buried my emotions in the urn at
Jacksonville, NC. Then I watched my daughter's birth, and saw that there was life, life." "Life,"
she said, and she understood. It wasn't all death. There was life as well. Life worth
living. "Yes," I said, "It is worth living even if you don't want to," and she hugged me
until she could hug me no longer. And I kissed the angel of death on the cheek and
said, "goodnight."

© 2010 Jean Jones

Originally from Bandung, Indonesia, Jean Jones received a BA in English in 1986 from UNC-Wilmington, and an MFA in Creative Writing: Poetry in 1988 from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Jean currently teaches Basic Skills at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina. He has had two books of poetry published by St. Andrews Press from St Andrews College, North Carolina; the most recent, "Birds of Djakarta", was released in 2008. Together with his friend and fellow poet Scott Urban, Jean Jones has had a brand new book of poems published by a brand new Wilmington, North Carolina publisher called Shaking Outta My Heart Press. Jean's book from that publisher is titled "Tornado." Jean is also co-editor of the online poetry magazine Word Salad which can be found at: www.wsmagazine.net/zine/

Find more by Jean Jones in the Author Index.

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