Emboldened by Uncertainty

Even the shadows surrendered

to the darkening descent

of the moonless, starless night

but not the katydids and crickets.


They chanted and chirped without

restraint or discernible concern

for how these cooler, lengthening nights

would impact them.

I knew these were signs of an impending frost

and their imminent death.

But, did they?


I turned 40 earlier this year and some may say

I’ve entered into middle age,

but how do we know the marker of middle

without looking back at it from the end?


We may not know when it’s our final year,

month, week, day,

hour, minute

or even…


breath.


Beginning. Middle. End.

Language can trick us into believing

what may not be true.

I don’t know where I am on this timeline.

I’m well past the beginning

but am I heading towards the middle?

Am I there? Have I passed it? Am I closer to the end?


This not knowing compels me to live

with such purposeful agency that at times

I may appear rash, but I’m no fool.


Death is indiscriminate and I refuse

to live with a false sense of impunity

and submit to inertia’s stultifying speed.


See, I’ve been there before…not dead

but wilted and living life like a tedious chore…

back then… closer to the beginning…

So much life was lost but thankfully

not all.


Reinhabiting life has taken me a while

and some serious grit, but this is why

I won’t hush desires, postpone possibilities

or ignore the clamoring call to create.


What’s coherent for me

may be confounding for you.


What I’m trying to say

is when death arrives,

we’ll all be forced to leave

some unlived life behind.

the question is

How much?


- Lauren Taub Cohen