Fantasy Poetry posted July 12, 2020

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Delirium, Cicadas, and my Angel of Mercy

My Last Kiss

by Aaron Milavec

Daily I grow weaker. I must be slowly dying.
Here in my bed, I suffer periodic fits of delirium
and waves of pain that push me in and out of sleep.
My lips are parched, but I do not have the strength
to reach for the cup of water next to my bed.
I content myself to suck on the apricot stone
that I've safely hidden in my hand. Sucking on the stone,
I get lost in the long ascending hymns of the cicadas.

I've always loved cicadas. How fitting it is that,
in my final hours, they would surround my home. 
Then I suddenly imagine that their crescendoing waves
are a sweet hymn ascended into the heavens to alert
the saints that an old servant of their Lord is dying.
In the next moment, I hear their wails for what they really are--
male cicadas banding together in a chorus of intoxicating ballads
that have the effect of arousing females with their sexual rapture.

Just then, I suddenly imagine that this chorus of my brothers
destined to die in just a few days has been sent to join me in my death.
They were my brothers indeed! They sing their hearts out in the expectation
that I too might find that one complete sexual surrender before I die.
With this pleasant thought buzzing in my brain, delirious exhaustion arrives.
Then, I am again cheered on by the choral singing of my brothers.
I reflect on how I have become like them in so far as
we both refrain from taking food as our bodies approach death.

Then the pain reasserts itself.  I try to find relief by turning onto my back.  
As I struggle to do so, a pair of strong, gentile hands assists me. 
Then a sweet, calm voice resonates deeply into my being, "I'm Jennifer,
your new hospice attendant. I will be here for you until the end."
I deliberately keep my eyes closed for I am deeply troubled
and yet marvelously elated by her voice. I know her voice.
Hers is the voice of Elena, my final true love! Tears of recognition
well up from deep within the forgotten recesses of my heart.
"Are you in pain?" she softly asks upon noticing my tears of recognition.
Then, checking for a fever, she places her warm hand across my forehead.
Her hand is known to me.  I instantly recognize it.  Her touch is so familiar.
But now I can't remember her name.  Yet her touch is so good, so familiar.
Then I remember that she asked me a question, and I blurt out my response,
"Some pain, yes.  But I will be able to tolerate it if you stay close to me."  
"Well, that's reassuring," she says with a warm smile and a little laugh.
"And, yes, I'm going to stay VERY CLOSE all the remaining days of your life."
Suddenly, without warning, she kisses me lightly on my lips.  I am puzzled. 
I am shocked. . . . Then I find myself trying to recognize those lips.  
Maybe it is the familiarity of her voice that melts all my resistance.
She promises to be with me until the end. “Who is this woman?”
I ask myself.  “Is she my Angel of Mercy come to be with me in my final hour? 
Is she my Elena come back from the dead?”  When I next became conscious,
I am delighted to hear again the rising chant of the cicadas, my brothers.
By slow leaps and starts, their song reaches its accustomed seductive frenzy.
Then a new realization slowly takes shape and overwhelms me.  
My Angel of Mercy is wrapping her arms around my chest.
She is spooning me in just the way that my Elena used to do.  
She is urgently pressing her warm, naked body close to mine.  
My body experiences a surge of love that mounts to honor her presence. 
Tears of pure joy and overwhelming gratitude overwhelm me.  
"Thank you, my sweet Angel!  Thank you, my faithful brothers,  
for seducing this sweet Angel of Mercy to join me in my final hour."


Free-style poem: human suffering writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
The topic for this contest is: Human suffering.

I am fascinated by cicadas and by the Angel of Death. Both of these nicely come together in my "death and dying" fantasy, "My Last Kiss." There is a lot of truth in my narrative.

Cicadas live and thrive for 17 years underground feeding on the rootlets of trees. When their time of awakening arrives in early summer, they have only a brief week to learn to see, to hear, to navigate with wings, to make love, and to insure that their young will survive after they die. What an adventure this is. See the story in four-minutes here =

Alongside these creatures who are obsessed with death, the "Angel of Mercy" is what I (along with millions of Italians) imagine to be the caretakers sent from heaven to accompany a person during their brief final hours of life. In many ways, these "Angels of Mercy" are like cicadas. Both function in marvelous ways during the "final hours" (as my poem makes clear).

This particular "Angel of Mercy" shown here I discovered on the island where the people of Venice bury their dead. For ten years now, I have kept her framed picture on the wall of my bedroom where she silently waits for the time when she will spring into action.
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