A New (old) Poem Concerning Life and Death

Still Life, With Mirror

(After Joel-Peter Witkin)


I saw something awful today:

a severed foot,


with five steel nails,

positioned in front

of a silvered piece of glass.


I could not see the blood,

it was a corpse-piece,

there was nothing to flow,

but I could watch the ragged muscle

end, the place where the bone emerged,

white-grey, from the flaccid base,


and I was disturbed. It was, at first,

almost like looking at an

arrangement of flowers,

odd, hard blossoms

from an earth-going vase.

I could tell that it was human,


past tense. And was

it the transformation

that cut off my breath?

The sudden shift from

appendage to ornament?

Or was it the knowledge


that this is something death

could be: no chorus, no reunion

of voices, but simply, through the act

of dissolution, becoming something,

to suck away

the sacred breath.



About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope is an award winning author of the LBA, and a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Awards. Her work was listed for the Cinnamon Press Novel Competition. She received her PhD from Aberystwyth University’s Creative Writing program. Her first poetry collection, A Radiance was published by Cultured Llama Press in June. Her second collection, Persephone in the Underworld has been accepted by Rufus Books and shall be released in 2016. Her work has appeared in: Anon, Art Times, Ampersand, Blue Tattoo, Sentinel Quarterly, The Delinquent, De/Tached (an anthology released by Parthian), The Writer’s Hub, New Welsh Review, Every Day Poems, And Other Poems, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Magma, Words & Music, The Quarterly Conversation, Tears in the Fence, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Planet. Her work is due to appear in the next issues of Poetry Review Salzburg, Acumen, Pacific Poetry , Music& Literature, Anon, and The Screech Owl.

Posted on December 15, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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