death is not pretty


we all must die.
there is nothing
more certain
than Death.
today, on a bus ride,
i drove past Death.
i drove past
a graveyard
where i saw him;
where i saw more
than most; the
full-stop and

row upon row;
purchased and plotted
and boxed.
pick your spot
for all Eternity.
pick a plot,
to make the most
of the sun, but
Damn, these cold winters.
colder than cold, this is
the coldest cot.
row upon row
of the sofest turf
laid to rest
upon the resting.
Rest in Peace.

paint a picture
of the prettiest garden.
a garden of sorrow,
where rememberings grow
with each grave
their memory haunts
our hearts but…

… what of the truth?
oh the sweet fragrance
of roses and tulips;
the pinks and whites
and yellows.
paint me a picture,
a pretty picture,
so i do not think.
so i do not think
of what lies beneath,
masked by perfume
and bequeathed bouquet;
masked by wreath
and the wrath of grief.

paint me a picture
of the pretty
and the sentiment
so that my mind
does not dig down…
down… down…
into the open mouth
of the hungry grave
where soil feasts.
down… down…
to sodden wood
and slipping skin…
down… down…
to rotting flesh,
purple and green-black
and bruisey.
down… down…
where pretty and
sentiment no longer
smell like Eden.

down… down…
where row
upon row of bloat
and twisted limbs;
where skin splits and houses
different life
that feasts
upon the flesh;
colonising cranial cavities*
where once dwelt
of childrens’ laughter;
or hoarding in hands,
now gnarled and broken,
that once gave
a lover pleasure.
this different life
craving the putrid
and the putty.

inhabiting the shell
devouring what once is still
loved and whole.
paint me a pretty picture
so that i may forget
what i know

… what of the soul?

words (c) Kat McDonald 2016 / image (c) Sally Mann – one of my favourite photographers



*when my father died this was, for me, one of the hardest aspects of grief i, a 13-year old girl, had to comprehend. it haunted me for many years.  i can cope with the terror-visions now, but only just.  writing about it helps, i am sure i am not alone in my thoughts on this matter… is the body merely a shell?

10 thoughts on “death is not pretty

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