01 January 1970

Untimely Death Declared (One Day Left)

Begin now the journey until your dying day/Write your own prescription for poetry/Read out loud every poet you’ve ever loved/Eat a feast prepared with you in mind...

Untimely death...
Untimely death... Getty Images

One day left
Time to prioritize
Assume the stars say do whatever
you want with what little time left

Spend the rent on charming ballet slippers
Dance at the ball until way past midnight
Laugh until you wet yourself no matter

Turn all your ‘Oh, no!’s into ‘Oh, Yes!’
Say hello to spring which won’t become a fall
Make some room for pudding—the real kind
made of whole milk and eggs

You will need your dogs with you
They’ve never heard of hour or year
They will give miniature barks in their sleep
and deep sighs when you give them kisses

Begin now the journey until your dying day
Write your own prescription for poetry
Read out loud every poet you’ve ever loved
Eat a feast prepared with you in mind

Remember the power of word medicine
Confound folks with your command of facts
Suddenly you remember everything you ever knew
Nothing forgotten now
Dementia just another state you’re passing through
on your trip across the great planes and spaces

Tell your stories to an appreciative audience
How you danced to drums in Sitka
How you disappeared into the ocean mists and midnight light
Enjoy mesmerizing accounts of adventure tales

Marvel at a flock of eagles in a single tree
Find a boy who knows the meaning of life
Feel the energy of warriors fallen to a massacre

Tell the folks you won’t be home for Christmas
Fly to Edinburgh and drive to Skye
Take the high road
Let the others take the low road

Sink deep into a leather sofa
Don’t expect anyone to understand
No one will love you with a love sublime

When the last grain falls through
the hourglass figure you never had
join an angel chant in 3 part harmony

We understand
We understand
There was one day left
And you sucked the marrow
of those final 24

(Donna Snyder’s fourth collection of poetry, As Meaningful As Any Other, was published by Gutter Snob Books in the summer of 2022. She founded the grassroots Tumblewords Project in 1995, which still offers free weekly writing workshops in the Texas/Chihuahua/New Mexico borderlands and beyond.)