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Randall J. VanderMey

Advance Directive

Goodbye to the letter carrier and the clack he makes
with the mailbox lid, goodbye
to the cat who will still greet his arrival
with a lift of her hare-lipped head. Goodbye
to my catlike stretches under sheets and all other forms
of self-willed pain. Goodbye to the next chapters
in Willa Cather and their desert beauties, chapters
I'll need now an afterlife to finish, if
life after permits, fond wish. Goodbye to cramps
in the right hand from writing. Goodbye to writing
and the urge to write, to mutual misprisions and consequent
needs to write, needs I've so often
swallowed, whose seeping toxins make today's aches
ache more. Goodbye to those parts of me
that have already been taken or broken, those
that never were part but nevertheless grew
between, among, or up through, fostered and festering,
ultimately bearing gifts
of darkest kind, prolific power.
Goodbye to those parts that remain, curiosities and dross,
and those that shall be harvested, my parting gifts
to who knows who. Goodbye to every act of love,
all giving and receiving, all touches and permissions,
all abidings and too-long tarryings, every sustaining
illusion, every ecstasy but one,
and to every fading, every love
except the love that holds me up
for sacrifice, the love I've so long returned
in unequal measure. And whatever tubes and
scopes and bellows may say, whatever
rumor or chart, whatever Five Wishes
or advance directive, when the fire
that lights the poem from within, the poem
like the ash pit still smoking near the trail bikes
the morning after, when that fire goes out,
with a drowning hiss or a simple
ceasing, when the muse goes out, when the muse
goes back to the holy mountain with her wild report,
Ah, then! I will have made my last goodbye.
I will have left it all to you.

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