I Fear Dying Alone

Not in the scenario in which l never find love and affection or live a meager, meaningless life. Those types of fears are common to all men and women, but not to me. By “alone” I mean the type of aloneness in which I find no significance in a relationship beyond mere interaction and titillation. Ultimately, isolation unto myself becomes my only source of comfort (and thus my prison). 

Does that make sense? A community of the most engaging, spiritually enriching, giving, caring, human beings could surround me, yet I would prefer to be alone. And engage only when engaged with, on a perfunctory level where in I disclose only the cheapest, most accessible trinkets of my soul, because the objects of greatest value I would rather remain hidden in obscurity, that I, alone, may stare into what dim radiance they offer.

Read this poem.

In a corner of the midnight 

This old man sits, alone, staring into 

His eye lids. Above him, 

With gripping austerity, a nail 

Hangs a portrait: those etched in the frame 

Have all gone away now. And the old man 

Knows this even as he stares unflinching,

Breathing heavily. 

Now, the cuckoo rouses 

Saying, wake up! wake up! And the nail 

Digs deeper into the wall, and frame 

Sees nothing. 

Alone! alone! the cuckoo says accusing

To the silence thick and stubborn. 

Alone! Then turns to rest a pitiful

Rest while the nails knuckles turn white,

The portrait stares blindly at the scene 

Of the old man’s nodding head. 

He should’ve changed by now, the cuckoo mutters loudly

almost weeping. Midnight is the hardest hour.

Son of man, can those bones live again” the cuckoo says

one last time to the old man, the nail, the portrait 

But the silence tightens 

And the nail sweats at the jaw almost weeping

With excursion,

The people in the frame dance a silent unseen 

Dance backwards. 

Good poetry, like good comedy, follows the “rule of three’s”. Three things project in this poem.

  1. The cuckoo
  2. The photograph
  3. The nail

The old man is connected to all of these. They represent differing aspects of his solitude.The cuckoo is a conscience that repeats the obvious to the man while he sleeps. “You are alone. You should have changed by now. You shouldn’t have become alone. What can change you. oh you, what can make you different now that you are this old.”

The people in the frame have all moved on and he has moved away from them. Perhaps they died, or perhaps the old man never connected to them in a long lasting relationship. After many years, he secluded himself unto himself. They might still speak to him, but they never truly speak to him, rather, to only a figment of him: that cheap, easy phantom which he allows to be spoken to. They dance backwards because they are memories and he thinks of them in the past’s context, not as an ongoing relationship. 

The people hang by the nail and the nail represents stubbornness. The man refuses to admit that those in the frame mean nothing to him. They mean quite a lot in an abstract way. But he would rather be alone, and would rather interact with the memory, the intimations of relationship then to know and be known. 


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