by Lorelei Jones
He swallowed death most eagerly
numbness spreading throughout his body
like a fur hide being slowly drawn up.
There wasn't a time for remorse or regret -
no, in fact, he welcomed the potential darkness.
It matched the blight on his soul.
Since losing Lenore
(his light, his heart)
he had nothing left but that damned black bird.
The bottle fell from his weak fingers
shattering on the stone floor
but he barely heard it
over the buzzing in his ears.
It wasn't bad, this dying.
There was no pain, no fear,
just a slow fading,
like butter melting in a warm pan.
Would he see her again?
That would imply an afterlife,
of which he was skeptical.
He would make do with an end to his pain,
escape from unceasing loneliness.
There, that hideous feathered figure
could knock until its beak wore off -
he would no longer answer.
Time became meaningless
as he floated through his last moments,
waiting in this sparsely furnished room
that he would not miss leaving behind.
In his final vision, the candle guttering,
he saw it was still night
and he felt it wryly appropriate
that he would expire before dawn's rays
touched his graying skin.
He slid from this life
between one indrawn breath
and the weak exhale,
his passage complete.
Was Lenore waiting for him there,
welcoming him to her bosom
with arms thrown wide?
We may think so, if it soothes us,
and so we shall
for we are more full of life than he,
more vital and sustained.
Quoth the raven,