Even a kilo of it
won’t save your skin now
won’t slow the bone-licking creatures
swarming towards you
even as the last sod is lobbed

And settling your bones
deeper inside your dirt doona
won’t warm you up; it’s too late
it’s too late for anything
except for that gadget we call regret

All those pastimes you thought
you would never be asked to axe;
reading the paper, eating lunch
in the summer air, lying
next to your 30-year wife

Or the woman at work;
if you hadn’t done that by now, it’s too late;
and, now that you own no eyes
the most you’ll be able to do
is admire the softness with which she walks

It’s all gone now
whether you guarded your body or not
whether you swam every morning
or spent each evening
re-examining the taste of cold beer

No sounds now, except for root-scratch
and the music of one-size-eats-all
the unthinking jaws of the worms;
the clicking and clicking
of their shining wet mouths

No words, no praise nor blame;
if someone is admiring your painting
discussing something you’d written
it’s too distant to hear; not even whispers
from behind the mirror

John West

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