When They Call Your Name

The Angel of Death

Angel of Death by Evelyn De Morgan, 1881

When they call your name,
it’s not like some sort of surprise.
It’s not as if several potential
revelers crouch hidden
behind the furniture and curtains,
some half-drunk, some in closets
already making out, flipping on
the lights and yelling “Surprise”
as you enter that darkened home.

No, when they call your name
you more than likely know it’s coming,
maybe dreading the intonation of
your nom de la vie, the whispered,
“Excuse me, Mr./Mrs/Ms./ (insert name here),
it’s time.” Or maybe you’ll be lying there,
all antsy, waiting for that light to illuminate
your way to where they want you to go.

You don’t have much say, you just
have to wait for its arrival
like the patient drip-drop of an IV bag hooked
to the blue vein in some scarecrow patient.
Or it can come so fast, like lightning
or a runaway semi on the interstate, that
you don’t even have a chance to mumble,
“Who, me?”

When they call your name, they just
call it, maybe mispronouncing it like Hersh
or Heesh. There was a time I didn’t care
if they called, no matter how they said it.
To leave all this would be no big deal.
But now I think I’ve earned the right
to be called my proper name, for a proper
departure from here to there, if there’s
a There there.

So I wait, no longer in a hurry.
I’d enjoy ignoring a first or second call,
like they were lame political pollsters or
credit card scammers. I’d just hit
the button that reads Dismiss. Or maybe
I could hide behind the curtains and yell,
“Surprise” when they come to pick me up.
Oh, I wish I could.

Too-long exercise in which I took the first line of the first song I have queued up on the iPhone to start a poem or story, then finish it with the last line. My Apologies to Ryan Adams for pinching these pieces of Come Pick Me Up.


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