What more could we have asked, so long ago,
than this, this endless noon, this cloudless sky,
idyllic, constant, calm? How could we know
we’d weary of that bright, unblinking eye?
Such blessings grow oppressive, and this grace
now lays upon us torpor like a pall;
each languid move, each whispered word, each trace
of breath–the weight of hours has stilled them all.
Life teeters on the fulcrum of the sun
until the course of nature drags it down,
progressing slowly through the vacant plain
to that last, passing point where we are shown
a shaft of light between two standing stones–
a sign–before the longest day is done.
Florence Newman, Professor emerita
Department of English, Towson University
“Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5 percent to 15 percent—albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.”
Ken Murray, How Doctors Die, The Best American Essays, 2012
Originally published in Zocalo Public Square
“The atheist does not say and cannot prove that there is no deity. He or she says that no persuasive evidence or argument has ever been adduced for the notion. Surely this should place the burden on the faithful, who do after all make very large claims for themselves and their religions.”
“What We Were Reading: 2006,” Guardian, 12/05/09
Thanks to Florence Newman for this cartoon idea.