If Death Were a Woman

poetry for and inspired by Imaginary Garden with Real Toads

–free-write, first draft, just going for what I see…




She will come for me

like words do when they wake

me from dreams, printed

in my mind’s eye, an inkblot of

the perfect image, the perfect metaphor,

the perfect motif, the perfect theme,

the clearest point.


She will wear a black dress

that moves like it’s in oil, her figure

slight and round and complete;

her dark eyes will summon me

outside, to a garden, so dark the night

will be that it is almost purple.


The moonlight will reflect on one thing–

an orchid tall and splendid

and she’ll take me by her warm, bony hand

and lead me on in front of her,

“touch it” her deep, quiet voice will command.


Death will know herself.

Death will be confident, with the grace

only aged women know.


I will feel like Alice through the looking glass,

and I’ll tiptoe up to it, my white nightgown

clinging to my naked frame--had I been sick? I’ll wonder.

I’ll feel the sweat trickle down my neck

like some heat-maddened moth, and I’ll

suddenly be anxious and afraid.


Death, permeating

everything fine, will tip up my chin

when I turn, and her eyes will

have yellow flecks like mine,

we share a scar beneath the left brow.


“Touch it.”


My nature has always been

not to disappoint, but this time

I am not willing to please-

and Death knows this, so her presence

will embolden me to embody

my own grace

and I will move my pale fingers

into the moon beam

and touch the orchid’s round center,

down into its curving dip.


“What do you wish to say?” Death will ask.


I will look to her again.

The orchid’s reflection glowing in her

irises–I will be bewitched. And see

she has smudged eyeliner on, and

her lips are fading.

Her dress that had moved like oil

will be disappearing into a white shift that seems

transparent but slowly

filling. The wrinkles that had been there

will start to trickle

and run down her face like



and I suddenly will remember

the words that had woken me

all those nights out of all those

nightmares and dreams–I’ll see

them in the ink of her tears


“What do you wish to say, Amy?”

her low voice is not asking,

only guiding


I will turn back and step closer

to the flower, the moon’s light

blinding on my shift that

will seem to be fading

into something dark, something

beautiful–black, somehow, moving as if in oil.


My words will be printed on its petals;

a fine script emerging as I bend nearer

there they will be–the point.


The clearest point.



(*wow, where the hell did that come from? Interesting write, Real Toads!!)