Nolo Segundo

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The Look in Her Eyes

No, it isn’t what you think
when I say I was enraptured
by the look in her eyes–
the eyes were those of a woman
who was dying and knew she
was dying…

I did not know her well–
she was the wife of someone
my wife worked with in the
prosaic world, the world of time
and schedules and appointments,
the world of taxes and getting
and spending and eating and
sleeping and making love (for
the lucky ones), a world filled
with the nightly news and TV
and a relentless social media,
a world that both commands
and ignores—but not the world
this woman was soon to leave
for, on a voyage she must
take alone, and she knew all
this as she lay small and quiet
in her hospice bed–
past speaking any more,
not even to her old husband.

But though quiet as a mouse
or a saint, she yet smiled, at
all in the room it seemed,
though when I went in turn
to say my good-bye to this
near-stranger, I thought,
‘She’s smiling at me!’ and
then I thought, ‘She looks
happy!’—but how can that be
I wondered— until her eyes
danced with a light I have
never seen before in human
eyes—it was her soul I knew
that knew, and her soul had
no fear, death being less than
air, less than nothing to it—
her soul was ready.

Nolo Segundo is the pen name of retired teacher, L.J. Carber, 74, who only became a published poet in the past 4 years, during which time he has been published online/in print in over 30 literary magazines in the US, UK, Canada, Romania, and India. Late in 2020 a trade publisher issued a paperback collection of his poems, under his pen name, with the title ‘The Enormity of Existence.’ He chose that title to reflect the awareness he has had of being both an immortal as well as a mortal being since he almost drowned in a Vermont river 50 years ago and had a near-death experience that shattered his former belief in a nihilistic-materialist (as in only matter is real) Universe. And no, his NDE was definitely NOT of the ‘white light’ sort, but then his near-drowning was not accidental; however, terrible as it was, he thanks to this day that Being–Force–Presence called God for all of it. He has been shown what many intuit: that each of us has an endless consciousness which predates birth and survives death. The problem with life is not that it is meaningless, which is the only logical conclusion to atheism, but that life, each life, has so much meaning that none of us can fully grasp it all.

Photo credit: “Prayer” by slice of infinity, via (modified by Veronica McDonald).

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