Daniel B. Silver

A GOOD DAY TO DIE


 

With a wounded heart in my office in a blue suit and tie
I decided it would be a good day to die
But before that live in earnest for a time
Upon the ocean’s gilded brine

 Outside the window, the moon shone in daylight
Waiting to show in the stillness of night
I tread out the door and down the hall
To answer the sea’s siren call

 Down to the marina I did walk
And shed my shirt upon the dock
Finding a vacant, moored craft
I untied it first at bow, and then aft

 None took notice as I drifted out to the bay
And raised the sails without delay
Letting the breeze take me beyond the golden gate
Out to the open water to meet my fate

 On day one, I lost site of shore
Planning to head west until I could go no more
The boat chopping down upon white-capped swell
The sky growing cloudy as night fell

 That night I ate canned food in the galley
And drank too many sips of scotch to tally
Sleeping on the deck at the base of the helm
Drifting lazily to sleep’s realm

 When I awoke it was just past dawn
I decided to sing a well known song
With Amazing Grace, I serenaded the surf
And the creatures below the salty murk

 One the second day of solitude
The wind picked up and I quickly moved
Out to the abyss of sea and sky
Chasing the horizon with determined eyes

 On the third day the air turned thick and wet
Drops of rain trickled down the mast
And shortly did thunder loudly crack
As Mother Nature began her attack

 The swell took the boat from side to side
And I remained on deck though I wished to hide
Down in the quarters so invitingly dry
Rain taking the place of tears I couldn’t cry

 A violent night befell me soon
A storm just short of a typhoon
I dropped the main sail and stayed the course
Undeterred by the gale’s force

 At three AM, a titanic wave
Took the boat over with its rage
Keel became mast, and mast became anchor
I catapulted into the water, awaiting Poseidon’s rancor 

Instinct took over, and water I fiercely tread
Though waves crashed violently onto my head
I clung to the overturned boat with white knuckled grip
Searching the dark emptiness for a rescue ship 

For it was incredible how shortly it took me to find
Something wonderful with which to remind
That life was still precious despite its toil
That I longed to once again walk on soil 

And as the storm raged on until the sun chased it away
I held death’s scythe at tenuous bay
Ducking and dodging, refusing to yield

When suddenly appeared a curious seal

 Poking his head out of water too cold
He presented to me his back to hold
I embraced him as he kept my tired body afloat
In the middle of the ocean, in a location remote 

On the fourth day the storm left as it came
Where once there was turmoil, only peace remained
My mammal friend swam me to a location unknown
But soon in the distance an island shown 

To the shore he carried me like a child in tow
Risking the gaze of predators below
In a few hours he deposited me onto the beach
And with a bark he swam off back into the deep  

I staggered up onto the warm island sand
And explored an unfamiliar, tropical land
Walking down the beach I soon heard a sound
Music it seemed; my God, I was found

 I approached the source of the out of place noise
Came around a clearing and welled with surprise
A resort, a hotel, a bar, staff and pool
What was this place? Were my eyes fooled?

 A man with brown skin approached and he said
“Hola, Senor. Welcome to Club Med.”
I looked past him to the vacationers that lay
Out in the sun, and in the pool played 

I could think of no retort, other than to say
“Sir, I have had the strangest of days!”
He smiled knowingly, and with a smile said,
“We’ve been waiting for you. I’m afraid you are dead.”

 Then he added before I could think to ask,
“I’m afraid you can never, ever go back.”
“You see, you built this place with your living mind.”
“Here there is no past, no future, and no time.”

 “Long ago you once dreamed of going out to sea.”
“To find God, but God is not yours to see.”
“For you never left your office, and never took that ship.”
“You died in your chair. You never took that trip.”

 He assured me that this was not all a dream
No matter how surreal all of it seemed
These people behind me, this is their heaven too.”
“It doesn’t exist only for you.”

 “Come with me and I’ll show you to your room.”
“This is a wonderful place; you’ll realize that soon.”
He turned to walk, gesturing for me to follow
But I moved away, and ran into the shallows

 Charging out to sea, I let my tired body swim
Away from the shore into the brine again
Behind me, I could hear the man yell,
“That way leads to damnation! That way leads to hell!”

 I swam for hours until the island behind me was small
Crawling ever out across the rocking swell
Soon I grew so tired I could no longer stay afloat
And thought of my night alone on the deck of the boat

 I resigned myself to my inescapable fate
Letting go of my rage, my sorrow and my hate
My body submerged as I sank down below
My spirit tied to it, my soul in tow

 My chest began to burn, but I did not dare fight
Embracing the inevitability of my certain plight
Steeled by faith that though horrifying and scary
I was going to at least escape such an obvious purgatory

 Suddenly a shock like a lightning strike
The seal streaked towards me and barked me awake!
My chest sizzled with electric pain
“Sir!” a paramedic cried out, “can you tell me your name?” 

Yanked out of my dreamlike, drowning state
Like a line of thoroughbreds charging out of the gates
Soon I was laying in the ER
A tube in my mouth and IVs in my arms

 On the first day I did my best to comprehend
What I had just been through with my seal friend
The nurses and doctors buzzed around
My mind in the DMZ between lost and found

On the second day I felt no better still
Though the professionals told me I wasn’t quite as ill

No appetite, no thirst and no desire to heal
No feeling of purpose; for my life, no zeal

 On the third day my ex-wife stepped into the room
And she spoke of the day when we were bride and groom
She read me a story, and stayed for a while
And did her best to force out a smile

 Later that night, in my empty hospital suite
With the TV on, and lights off, my heart skipped a beat
Soon the heart monitor began to alarm
And a cold burn spread from my chest to left arm

 I slipped slowly that night into oblivion’s grasp
And I’m sure though they tried, I didn’t come back
I sailed up through the roof, to the sky and stars beyond
Enveloped in warmth; my fear long gone

 In a matter of moments, weeks, months or years
I arrived at an island, without pomp or cheers
And the brown-skinned man, appeared again on the beach
My seal friend with him, to the left of his feet

 He smiled as he said, “I’m sorry to have frightened you.”
“You only need stay here if you think you can make do.”
“This place is simply the heaven you want it to be.”
“These are like-minded souls basking in the shade of these trees.”

 He held out his hand, and I took his grasp
And left my life on earth slip into the past
He showed me to my room, and gave me my key
And told me I could be as happy as I wanted to be 

At poolside, on an ethereal legal pad, I write these notes
In the water in front of me, the playful seal floats
In the shade of a cabana, surrounded by friends
With god it seems, I have made amends

 Sometimes under moonlight, and the gentle island breeze
I walk down the beach, listening to the sea
And sometimes I come upon a new frightened soul
And I tell them, “Fear not, my friend. I’ll see you tomorrow by the pool.”