When I Died



Poet Mark Irwin says, “I love the physicality of language in expressing the real, but I equally love the abstract, where so many of the critical aspects of our lives converge; for example, love, death, and time have all seemed brutally abstract to me.”

Love, death, and time….all brutally abstract.

Think about that.  I do.  I have.  I am.

He also says, “We actually live most of our lives in a world of maybe and if, and then what happens when the body dies?”

A world of maybe and if.

Yeah.  I recognize that world. I know it pretty well.  Maybe…

And he says, “I think it is ultimately human to occupy that space between yes & no.”

Between yes and no. Maybe and if. Life and death.

What kind of a world is that, to be in? to be….in-between?  What does it look like?


The World from my Front Porch, photo by Larry Towell


But Mark Irwin doesn’t just talk the talk.  He walks the walk.  He doesn’t just say cool shit.  He writes poems that….affect me.

This is one.



I saw a man tearing down a blue house

but inside the blue house a green house

slowly appeared as the man motioned

toward me, suggesting I enter, opening

a white door where the man became

a woman in a yellow field with the snow falling

upon so many people walking toward

a blue house, and they were telling each other

they had never seen anything so green,

not even the grass under the red sky of their names.


Mennonite women in dust storm, photo by Larry Towell


Mark Irwin says that, when you are out in the wilderness, “space and time bleed into one another until the boundaries become unidentifiable.”  True.  But it doesn’t just happen in the wilderness; it can happen anywhere.

Mark Irwin also talks of seeing tall churches made of mud and straw, during a visit to Romania, buildings with exaggeratedly steep roofs, which were so small inside that they seemed of no use. He says, “I asked a peasant why they were made this way. He told me that “One grows slender when approaching God.”

Some words do that to me too, when I read them…I am approaching something I can’t put a name to…a green house inside a blue house…a yellow field white with falling snow, and the red sky where names are written.

Not maybe.

Not if.

But right here, right now.

On this page.


4 comments on “When I Died

  1. April says:

    It got me thinking too. However, I tend to occupy the space of What, more than Maybe or If.

  2. Aka living in the present. Good if you can do it. I try. But every once in awhile it’s oh-so-easy (for me) to slip into Maybe…..and If can be downright tantalizing sometimes 😉

  3. Adriana Degetau says:

    Great post!

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