It's inexplicable, how someone chooses to end a life, if "choose" is even the right verb. Who understands it? Tenderness and curiosity, ability and talent, responsiveness to the world: of course all those things can seem to fail us, and probably most of the people I know -- myself included -- would be capable, in some moment when we couldn't see beyond our own misery, of stepping off some awful height. What holds us back from that brink, or what sends us over?
I've been thinking about this all week, since Deborah Digges died on Good Friday. I didn't get the news until Monday morning. Deborah and I had been colleagues at Vermont College, back in the day, and later I'd gone up to Tufts to read for her students there. And I'd taken pleasure in writing a jacket blurb for her wonderful book of poems, ROUGH MUSIC, and for her memoir about raising her two sons, a book full of compassion, nerve and hope for the future.
Deborah was married to Franklin, a veterinarian and a teacher of vets-to-be who died in 2003, and her life and work were full of animals. On this video, recorded just last month in Los Angeles, you can hear her read three poems. The first is a stunning poem concerning assisting, with Franklin, at the birth of a bull calf. The line which lends this post its title is the first line of the poem. It seems just the right poem to hear now, as a way of calling out Deborah's name, and as a poem that looks into the gates of life.