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Marilyn Krysl's poem "There Is No Such Thing as the Moment of Death" is a sobering statement about the transit from life to death. Told from the point of view of who we assume to be a nurse, we become privileged witnesses of what is the most transcendental experience in human life, together with birth. Krysl's poetic persona divests that transit of any dramatic or tragic connotation and shows the act of dying as the natural culmination of life. There is no anguish, no rebellion, not even noticeable pain in the anonymous patient who is about to depart from this world. At the opening of the poem the patient advises the nurse, and also the reader, of the immediacy of his passing. Unable to do anything to prevent it, the nurse just holds the hands of the man, providing him with silent company and comfort in his transit. The title of the poem makes the central theme explicit: death arrives unnoticed and we cannot really identify the precise moment when it replaces life in a body. The patient's existence extinguishes itself in a slow process, not in a single moment. At one point, the nurse realizes that she is holding hands without life in them, a carcass of what once was a human being, now inert and quiet. The closing lines, in which the nurse tells of the sound of her own blood, becomes a reaffirmation of life, fragile and temporal, but powerfully audible. The whole poem attempts to deprive death of the tragic and horrifying connotations it has for us humans, and by so doing urges us to accept it as a natural part of our existence. Indeed a sobering and profound meditation on the human condition, since we are the only animal in creation that has a rational knowledge of the inevitability of our death.
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