This collage is composed of views of a sculpture found in Barcelona’s Poblenou Cemetery. The Kiss of Death (El Petó de la Mort in Catalan and El beso de la muerte in Spanish) dates back to 1930. If you Google "kiss of death" you will run into Richard Widmark's screen debut as a lead, some other things and you will run into several sites presenting this rather famous memorial.
There is some debate who created The Kiss of Death, sculpted of white marble. It is attributed to Jaume Barba but it seems quite likely that it was created by Joan Fontbernat. It is tucked away in the farthest corner of Poblenou Cemetery and may have inspired Bergman’s The Seventh Seal.
Josep Llaudet Soler is interred beneath the sculpture. The Llaudet family was at the time of his death a leading textile manufacturing family in Barcelona and he their favorite son. His epitaph reads in a loose translation:
“And his young heart can no longer help;- from a poem written by Jacint Verdaguer, one of Catalan's greatest poets.
in his veins the blood stops and freezes
and with all encouragement lost, faith embraces
his fall into the arms of death."
Last Monday, I posted an alter ego view on the approach of death entitled The Bone Dance. *Click here* Today I present a poem much closer to my true relationship with death as best I know it.
I have heart ailments. When I went to emergency complaining of shortness of breath a couple years ago now, I was mostly amused at all the fuss. They took it all calmly but very seriously. At one point a doctor hurried to my emergency room expecting to find an unconscious man. I wasn't. They weren't sure whether they should focus on the pulmonary embolism they thought they saw or the arrhythmias they knew they had. The arrythmias won in the end. The focus made the difference concerning what nursing staff and specialty floor I would be placed with. My earlier heart trouble put me in surgery for an angioplasty and stent in my lower right artery. So that's twice now.
I really hate pain, I confess. I will go to considerable lengths to avoid it. What I hate even more is a loss of dignity. I am not completely sure but my current view is I would rather fade out in good time than be left here mostly at the mercy of others, waiting for example to have my bottom cleaned or some such. Ewww. I would not be grateful for a new day under that condition. I do hope for a way out then. In return, I will do my best to be grateful now for what I do have. I hope that's a deal that will work.
I am definitely experiencing the effects of my conditions. I have others. In a just world I would no longer have to work, but if I can, I will. I have very little money, honey. My mother had a massive stroke while I was visiting her and died in three days, just after all her important family got there. This all happened just as her money began to run out for real. That's about right for me, though quicker would be better.
When I wrote The Bone Dance I wrote for the fun of it. When I finished the poem I realized that while it displays a certain attitude quite well, it was not true to my heart. I wrote this poem the next day, just sixteen hours later. Now you see why I like to time stamp my poetry as well as date it.
When It's Time
Death, you're not my foe
nor shall I run to some far
place to dodge my bill
when I sense it's due.
I will not snarl and struggle
as if caught in snares
hidden on my trail.
Instead I shall turn, embrace
your chilly long limbs
and kiss your cold cheek.
In return I've asked, do not
come early to me,
and this you have not.
May 4, 2010 8:13 AM