or not a beast but some sheer mystery
whose presence comes both faintly and in power--
When I must turn and gaze into the dark
and quickly turn away, forgetting what I’ve seen--
not seen at all but dimly darkly sensed.
And do I dare to turn toward your face?
That’s not a face and nothing one can know
or feel, and yet that shadows me today
and yesterday and every day that comes
unwelcome guest appearing from nowhere--
decaying leaves ooze mud beneath my feet.
At once you take a faceless skull that mocks--
a blackened mask before a lightless blank
that follows after after and before
and comes yet closer ever closer than before
enclosing me in your blank nothingness
and making me as lifeless as your formless face.
“You are not facing me your mind is wandering
some sad and sorrowful and fearful sickenings
not standing still to see what still stands still.”
“Who are you then, or what, that speaks to me?”
“Your shadow and your life and your impending doom,
and all you ever were and ever will become.”
I see my lifeless form, a body lying still,
and feel no breath no beats but nothingness
for I am gone not I— no I that sees
just you that gazes down on lifelessness;
for you have done your work, sheer emptying
Dissolving me into yourself, o death.
—William Paul McKane