The Pact

“What happens after death?”
she asked one Sunday,
her long, thin body stretched
weakly across the settee,
her cousin balancing
his dinner plate at her feet.

Sundays they came together,
all the family, for Grandmother’s
dinners; the warm waft of fresh-
baked pies, the clank of dishes,
voices raised over old farm table.

He shrugged; it was always a concern –
she’d been frail from birth, this girl
he loved, two years younger, but
in every way his peer – said nothing.

“Let’s make a pact!” she blurted
“The first to die will leave a sign.”
“Grandpa’s bells!” They shook on it
and then, with a satisfied grin
she succumbed to sleep.

A more sombre clan gathered mid-week
eyes red and faces pale with the shock of loss –
no smells of warmth to greet them,
just cold platters prepared by church ladies

Slumped bodies, heads leaning close,
sipped tea on the place where she’d lain
that last gathering – no sound of children’s
laughter, the hole too hard to bear.

And when the sound came: metal
clanging on metal, ringing a joyous
clamour, she was the first to see –
Grandpa’s bells stirring – her sign!

She knew then he’d be waiting,
told me so before that last breath
and as I watched her go, I swear
I could hear the far off ringing of bells.

(The Pact was originally published September, 2018. Edited here. Image my own)

Raven and Snake

That day, crossing the parking lot,
raven swooped past, snake in clasp –
I took it as a sign, hurried my steps.

The ward nurse stopped me,
revealed the end was near,
appointed me bearer of news.

Me, whom you loved to hate –
lashed with brash comments,
unforgiving of my youth.

Unsurprising, your wrath,
and then the threats –
to be cut from your will

Deeply ingrained the need
to hate, to blame – lawyer
didn’t comply, I remained

Represented you in death,
sorry for a life of lies ,
how often you had to pretend

to love men,
to not be lonely,
that alcohol solved all

Miss you even now –
your caustic presence
irreplaceable, left a hole.

Don’t regret finding you,
getting help, staying
bedside as death knocked.

You’d do the same –
intrinsically linked,
the raven and the snake.

(Linked to Reena’s Exploration Challenge where the prompt is to write about sudden, magical events.)