Playing Games with Death

Playing Games with Death

Sometimes Death sits at the table
Hand resting on the cards.
We pull away,
Not ready for the last trick,
The trump card
In the game of life.

We put up a hand,
Submit to shuffling through
Machines, medicines, machinations.
Delay tactics?
Cheating death?
One more round…
We play the gambling game
With Death at the door.
But Death smiles,
Hides his cards


Sometimes Death doesn’t show up to the game.
Instead walking switchbacks
Where no obstacles exist.
He inches forward,
Extending a card
Then pulling it back—
Seeming to mercilessly tease
The recipient who lays
Open handed.
To lay it all down.

Why? We ask
Does death not come
To the table
When invited.
Why does he delay—
Standing on the sidelines
Smiling peacefully
Awaiting some unknown appointment time
When he is already tardy?
Can we hurry him along?
And yet, death comes in his own time.
We think we make the rules
But Death knows
The Master playmaker.

Joy Eastridge, 2015


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