He tries to hold very still.
He tries not to move his tongue.
His tongue is thick and dry, a log.
He tries to hold his thoughts still, tries not to think of water.
But his mind fills with pools.
In thought, he kneels and laps up puddles like a dog.
He hears water pouring into a cup,
sees the cup come toward his lips,
opens his lips, but this is no water.
When he was little, he and his mother went to the well every morning
with other children and their mothers.
He had a tiny yoke of wood his father made him.
From it, he could carry two leather bags of water all the way home.
Mary had a yoke, too,
a large one, and larger leather bags,
for she was young and strong in those days.
He would follow her up the dusty steps of dusty streets,
her brown legs climbed easily under her heavy load, his little feet
traced her footsteps. Usually he made a game:
he must step exactly where she stepped,
and not miss even one.
He supposes that little yolk is in the house somewhere, still.
It has been years since he saw it.
They used to make the trip twice, two bags apiece.
That was the water for the day.
Here there are no children with their mothers.
This is no place for a child.
And there is no water here.
Father, Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit
He can just lay it down.
He can just stop.
He has only just now realized,
in the lengthening space between ragged breaths,
that he can just not draw the next one.
He is almost there already:
the wall between the worlds is very thin.
Now he sees it's simple to go on from here: just stop the breath
and let his spirit slip on home.
In every way, this death is ours:
the same fear becoming the same intentness,
the same directional change.
He has always said this, but we did not believe it.
We thought exception would be made for him
because we hope exception will be made for us.
But there are no exceptions.
We can lay it down or have it
wrested from us.
We are almost there already.