Memento Mori

It doesn’t take much to remind me

what a mayfly I am,

what a soap bubble floating over the children’s party.


Standing under the bones of a dinosaur

in a museum does the trick every time

or confronting in a vitrine a rock from the moon.


Even the Church of St. Anne will do,

a structure I just noticed in a magazine--

built in 1722 of sandstone and limestone in the city of Cork.


And the realization that no one

who ever breasted the waters of time

has figured out a way to avoid dying


always pulls me up by the reins and settles me down

by a roadside, grateful for the sweet weeds

and the mouthfuls of colorful wild flowers.


So many reminders of my mortality

here, there, and elsewhere, visible at every hour,

pretty much everything I can think of except you,


sign over the door of this bar in Cocoa Beach

proclaiming that it was established--

though established does not sound right-- in 1996.



Copyright Billy Collins ©2011. From Horoscopes for the Dead. Reprinted by permission of Random House.

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