Did I die?
September 18, 2001
He wrote, "Since they were not the ones
They returned each to their own tasks,"
And cried "Out Out."
Then, the other one:
he died of old age,
the result of too much work and the ridicule of the neighbors.
Only Mary cared to wonder what he did
and called it "The Death of a Hired Man."
Warren certainly would have worked him to death
to clear the upper pasture, as he had promised.
But he died in the home that wasn't his
and Warren said so,
but Mary understood him: he would not lose his dignity
just to please his banker brother -- or other important relatives.
He died, and a part of Mary died with him
and a part of me died with him
and a part of anyone who cares to read
"The Death of The Hired Man" dies with him.
One dead, all alive, and we die with him in a progression.
That is, will be, is reminiscent of our own deaths.
But what do you do with the death of fifteen thousand?
Do you die fifteen thousand times
and everyone who reads about it dies fifteen thousand deaths?
And anyone who sees the carnage dies fifteen thousand times"?
I don't know because I have never died that many times.
I don't know because my senses are numb and I cannot fathom it.
In theory I can write about it -- and mourn.
But how can I imagine, with tears welled up in my eyes
the death of fifteen thousand souls, including the killers.
I have no answers -- I am lost for being who I am and who I represent.
Camus avoids suicide because it give meaning to death.
Sisyphus says death has no meaning, only life does.
Now, how do I reconsider his proposition
with fifteen thousand deaths? Do the
numbers make a difference and death becomes meaningful?
Not for those who died, and for those who live:
that becomes a philosophical play-thing to play with.
I don't want to play philosophical games; I have no feelings left.
The body without feeling is dead in a sense
and death does not make sense, and Albert Camus says so.
I feel, at the very bottom of my heart, an ache
which is an emptiness, only a point
that is sharp enough to make me aware of it
but dull enough not to awaken me to full consciousness -- not yet.
That dullness, that thud without a sound
connects me with the fifteen thousand and separates me from
those who caused the deaths.
Do I wish death on those who planned it?
But, death does make no sense!
Now, I'll sit me down and count the dead:
ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR ....
* "Out Out" and "The Death of a Hired Man" are two
poems by Robert Frost. Camus wrote "The Myth of Sisyphus".
©All rights are reserved by the author.
Reza Ordoubadian holds a Ph.D. degree in English and linguistics.
He has held a professorship at Middle Tennessee State University and Visiting
Professorship at Umea University (Sweden). He has published numerous pieces
of fiction and poetry as well as scholarly articles and books on both sides
of the ocean. He was the editor of SECOL Review for 18 years.