Last Will and Testament / Chris Clifton

In memoriam Valentina

I had never had much thought about my death. I had always just assumed that it would come, when least expected, in some accidental way to end the series of the moments that had carried me from anywhere to elsewhere, without means to slow them down, or hold them back to open space for me to contemplate the meaning of my life, as just another passing moment, which would come to me one day, and take me nowhere. But as one that would bring end to every moment, such a moment made no sense, and what it was that was to follow was no business of my own to be concerned with. Or at least that is the way I might explain my lack of interest in my death from the perspective I have come to at the end of looking back. Perhaps it was my fear of it that made me look away. But what I see from this perspective is a figure of my death already come to its irreparable conclusion. It is all I ever see now, in this twilight of my days. Everywhere I look I see expressions of my death as I have lived them. It is here in every moment. Not the prospect of my death, but the fact that it is here and has been with me all along. For my death is not a future to prepare for, but the fact that has allowed me to be present to the world and all its wonders, and as that to which to give myself completely. I am dying all the time. And the fact that I have come to this awareness has allowed me to take notice of the things that I had only ever labelled, as a way I think to keep my death away. Take that daffodil through the window. In the past I would have seen it as an aspect of the garden I would work to keep in order, and to keep myself as busy as I could; but this morning I perceived it for the first and only time as what it was that very moment, as the figure of a world that would be ended by the time I looked away, or had already passed away. It was a wonder to behold. Looking at it now I see the figure of a death, although the sun be yet to wilt it. I wonder if you mind going out before you leave to cut it off and place it on that table? There are vases in the kitchen. I would like to watch it fade, and lose its figure while I lie here. I know my death is almost over. I have already come to terms with what my life will ever be. So many terms that there is nothing left to do but to appreciate this moment, as the image of a void to which I cannot come to terms. For I cannot come to terms with my own death. The final figure is beyond me. However I am happy to imagine that another may perceive it, and receive whatever life I have to give them. Yes, I’m happy to imagine.

Christopher Clifton lives in Australia. His treatise Of the Contract is published by Punctum Books.

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