Still, love

In the first of my past lives I died of indigestion. I’d picked red berries from a strange bush. It was a different time, before antibiotics.

In my second life I was chased by a quarrelsome army with swords. They danced on my open chest, danced and drank. Took a lock of my hair as trophy.

The third life was so long that I forgot to die and went about my daily cooking and cleaning till I heard the whispers about me. There’s a ghost who stalks the hallways all night. Suddenly exhausted, I lay down.

In another life they laid me off. I died many times before I expired for good like a jug of old milk, soured beyond use.

Once, in my most privileged life, there were grandchildren around me at the end, squeezing my hand, singing my favourite songs. I couldn’t remember their names but made sure to wait till they had gone to sleep.

Next life came the drought. This was the simplest death of all.

Lived my seventh life feral, as a cat, always daring (once failing) to cross the road during peak traffic. That’s when I knew (hoped) I’d have two more.

My eighth life was brief as a bubble. Breathed open air for just a couple of hours. Then they bombed the hospital.

If I’ve learnt anything it’s this: in my last life I want to die of love. Love’s hunger and celebratory fire. Its haunting shame. If you’re lucky, its abundance. How something in it will not be quenched, will take leaps of faith again and again. Love’s total indifference to justice.

Still, love. In this life I want to die in your arms, love.