Death Wine

In memory of Ivan Illich

by Mario Petrucci
That strange calm on Inis Mor
when I sat beside you at an island
of dark-grained wood. You told

of Death Wine - the bottle
each of us may choose so that
when our time comes we can

summon friends in one last salute
at the bedside. You said this
and peered through glass

to uninterrupted sky - you
who could gaze on the face
of a young century and tell it

each feature in its descent.
A better century might have
listened in rapture - asking

Who is my true Father? My
Mother? Some of us listened
a little, to the way intractables

were left in a pit filling with water
with one pump between them
to co-operate or drown. Thus

was work invented. Now I glimpse
we have many fathers, many
mothers. From you I sensed

a Dark Age is merely one
whose light is more cloistered
from the tourist. Ivan

I did drink wine with you
that moment you closed eyes
to turn your gaze forever

within and so much further
we drank in that backroom where
thoughts stir before they step

into the hubbub of making
themselves known. I salute
you with each thought. I raise

to you our Death Wine
the only draught worth taking.

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