Dying

I waited until everyone was out of the house.

I waited until there was nothing on the horizon;
nothing in the diary;
nothing in my notebook;
nothing at my writing-hand at all.
Until my writing-hand was hardly ever being used.

Then I got everything ready:
the stopwatch;
the deep, stainless steel bowl;
the bottle of salt;
the packet of blue powder.

Back went the dial on the old stopwatch,
until it was tight and began to count me down.
In went the warm water.
In went the five tablespoons of salt.
In went the packet of grainy blue dye.
Then in went my stiff wooden hand –
in went my out-of-fashion hand!.

And it held itself down.
For twenty-two seconds, and then another twenty-two,
it agitated itself and drowned itself out in the blue.
It lost oxygen and turned the colour of the sea –
the sea from a foreign point of view –
it turned a dark, cold, airless blue,
as if it had not breathed for some time –

and just as it assumed the appropriate shade;
just as it turned into a deep and dying blue,
the stopwatch gave way and rang its alarm.
I lifted my hand up from the sink:
it looked shrunken. It looked taboo.

And for all that week, I admired my new hand.
I sat at the table, leafing through free magazines,
proud of finally taking the time to renew it so thoroughly.
I spoke on the telephone, distracted by the newness of my hand.

I sat at the computer, trying it out,
awkwardly tapping all of the wrong keys.

Yes, I thought, this is very me.


first published in PN Review, 2013, © Tara Bergin 2013, used by permission of the author

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1Looking at Lucy's Painting of the Thames at Low Tide Without Lucy Present

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3Water is Difficult

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4All Fool's Day - An Academic Farewell

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6You Could Show a Horse

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31Dying

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32The Workmen

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33The Hairdresser

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