Not yet please—a poem about dying

Cartoon: woman in pyjamas drawing. She is thinking, How do I draw THAT?

Avoid the void.
Void the void.
Implore the void.
Embrace, revere, explore the void.

Pastels smudging
the morning sky.
Oh no no no no
oh don’t let me die.

The pain in his neck
makes my neighbour cry.
Oh no no no no,
oh don’t let him die.

The hazel light
of my sister’s eye.
Oh no no no no,
oh don’t let her die.

Deny, decry, defy the void
for just a moment, just for now
for we are only human
and afraid.


I’m well and healthy but I am human, and so sometimes out of the blue a terror strikes me. A flash of comprehension that yes, one day the people I love will die and yes, one day even I, indestructible I will die. I am nervously attempting to see this terror of death as a gift, a gift that may one day enable me to look death in the eye. When it is time. Which is probably not today, not for me. cc by 2.0 rachel mcalpine — please do share.

20 thoughts on “Not yet please—a poem about dying

  1. Rachel McAlpine says:

    Thank you for your blessings. It’s hard to explain that when I write a poem, it captures a moment. I am not living in a state of fear 🙂

  2. rosemaryhr says:

    The thought also crosses my mind occasionally – I think it’s an age thing – but I feel panic rather than fear. I still have so much to do!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Rose, we are subject to the human condition. I guess that’s good, ultimately.

  3. rhinophile says:

    It was two years ago on Friday since my husband’s spirit left his body, so I too have been reflecting on death and dying. He was only fifty-eight, and so full of life with so much to give. I ruminate on the ‘unfairness’ of life that one who had so much to contribute should leave us when still so young. I wonder how much longer I will be on this planet. It is definitely possible and maybe preferable to ponder our mortality. As you have noted here, it does not mean you live in a state of fear. Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts with us. xx

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Death is a topic that comes up more often since my husband was diagnosed with Primary Myelofibrosis. It is a topic that doesn’t sit comfortably with most folk. Which is understandable. Though it is one that needs to be ocassionally talked when you have a deadline of sorts! We have short conversations about the things I might do when he is gone, so in a way, he will know where I am. Black humour is very much vogue in our household!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s huge for both of you. But it sounds as if you have found a way to deal with the topic, which as you say is not easy. Kia kaha.

      1. Suzanne says:

        Thanks Rachel, your comment is much appreciated.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    When we realized that we were now going to funerals instead of weddings, we understood mortality in a much more personal way. Occasionally the terror grips me too.

  6. I love your poetry and I think you’ve got such a unique blog running here 😊 did you draw the picture in this blog post yourself?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you! And yes, these are my very rapid drawings.

      1. Wow they’re really cool!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad that you included the drawing. And the brief statement at the end. Without them the poem would seem unfinished, especially in light of the surprising change in tone and form in the last stanza.. Together, however, the three of them effectively present the levels of feeling that I experience when the thought of death arrives with no invitation or warning. I benefitted from the honesty and accuracy of your post..

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And I am honoured by your thoughtful reading of the poem. Thank you.

  8. Jina Bazzar says:

    I don’t think that’s a fear caused by age alone. Sometimes i have this fear of dying too, although, I admit the fear is for my kids, of what’ll happen to them.
    We have today, and fearing what may come is counter productive – though it does give us a healthy dose of appreciation.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh yes, that fear for one’s children can be overwhelming. You’ve summed up the pros and cons beautifully.

  9. When I was in college the Grim Reaper seemed SO far away. As an English lit major we’d read things like Keats’ “When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be” and Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Now that I feel the changes in my body that come with being 65, the poignancy when reading these poems strikes at a deeper place. And reading blogs like yours encourages and lightens. Thanks Rachel!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Susan this is such a lovely response. All that I hope for is in your words.

      1. Thanks much, Rachel. It amazes me how deeply impressed I was by certain passages of literature throughout the years. The ones about death/fragility are like “ear worms” in my heart if there is such a thing. Also: I so enjoy your posts and your wonderful drawings. Recently purchased a set of Faber-Castell soft pastel chalks and I LOVE combining them with Tombow pens and colored pencil drawings in my journals. The chalks make things look like watercolor (which I do not do).

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        I’m delighted to hear about your drawings. I’m hopeless with pastels, so messy. About ear worms, see Maggie Rainey Smith’s latest post. You are not alone!

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