Old folks die noisy deaths. This is not the received wisdom of youth who firmly believe in the silent slide to oblivion "He just closed his eyes, and was gone!" she gushed with a smile, As though describing a child's first steps. The truth is Great-aunts drop casseroles onto hard kitchen floors, as their chests burst, Widowers knock over tables lurching from bed clutching their throats, A farmer scolds his dog, -- gone 40 years -- for chasing sheep, And the mother rips tubes from her arms, cursing the nurse for poisoning her.
The dying man hears the loudest noise. He carries from birth a metal bowl into which drop steel balls, at odd moments, unexpectedly. He walks alone down a long crystal arcade, lined with glass cabinets. The bowl becomes heavy and he grows frail. He pitches forward and the perfectly elastic spheres bounce everywhere, a cacophany of clack-clack-clack and breaking glass. He lies, clinging to the sounds, life oozing from his mouth with each moan, Not fully gone until silence follows the last tap.