Maurice Harmon
My mother made a face at death's unmannerly approach. Gracious, she overlooked his lack of tact. One radiant afternoon, smiling,
composed, she talked with those she loved. Her legacy was gentliness.
Others are not so fortunate.
Between the life lived and the death
there comes a bitter, testing scene.
Neither philosophy nor prayer
sustains the script. No prompter near.
Act one begun before one knows
he plays the lead. The stage is filled: doctors, nurses, friends bearing flowers. All play but he participates halfheartedly, distracted by
a play within the play in which he will not take the curtain call. The outer action seems remote:
the man in white decides the scope, offstage the bloodstained fingers grope closeby friends mouth the trivial text. No one hears death's secret cue.
A man of taste and pride, when called upon to mime his days away,
refused. Mumbling, deaf, halfparalysed, tubes sucked him dry. He'd had glory days. What need he prove?
I saw him dance and sing the night away in Oregon. Boston
loved his witty expose of Joyce. Teacher, traveller, raconteur, if he could not be himself, then he'd wear oblivion's array.
He went on hunger strike. Rewrote the play within the play. Got no applause but played like one inspired.
Page 89, Poetry Ireland Review Issue 26