A preteen reading Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories, I was absolutely fascinated by Poe’s ability to contrive his endings in such an eerily easy sleight-of-hand. The tale that stood out because the dead body itself sat up and spoke was “Thou Art the Man.” Apparently someone had rigged the corpse in such a way that when ropes used to tie him flat were shredded, the body sprang up, lurching in the direction of the murderer, and the natural bodily gases caused an inserted whalebone in the corpse’s mouth to vibrate, uttering sounds, when amplified by the ventriloquist skills of the narrator, articulated, “Thou art the man.”
I imagine that same body pitching forward in a certain direction and mouthing his breathy gases through whalebone to push out consonants and vowels formulating, “This is the way.”
Perhaps then the question would be: Who would follow the path pointed out by this cadaver? Moving away from the ghastly and grotesque, in a way it’s a simple question to answer since our dearly departed often make known their wishes for the future. Many of us know without a doubt which way is the way to go. Sometimes there’s a will, a trust, spelling out in dollars and cents which way to go. And when there’s a strong will on the part of the departing one, she spells it out in a sensible way. Sometimes even in a sensual way, down to the scents to be used at the viewing, the flavors and delicacies to be served at the celebration of life.
During this recent holy season paying homage to the dead on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, Ruth Bader Ginsburg could wait no longer. She was already great and attained Tzaddik eminence, holy and justly enlightened one, by dying on Rosh Hashanah. Her will is known; she expressed it before passing. The way to go, her way to go. “No, do not replace me, no, not yet. Let my legacy prevail unsullied, uncompromised, unblemished by hypocrisy and lawlessness — until the election of a new president.”
I would hate to see what end, what way, Edgar Allen Poe would write for the Speaker who would disregard such a will, such a way.
Perhaps Ruth would play one last role, dressed in her ermine robes, and rise from her rest, spring forward, and point at the Speaker, and with a sardonic smile, whisper, “Thou, thou art the man” and add with a grievous groan, “This, this is not the way.”
Thank you for your attention.
Dolores Maggiore of Parkdale has published a YA mystery series, short stories in anthologies, and reference books on psychotherapy and lesbians and child custody. She is a retired psychotherapist and former mental health counselor with Hood River County School District. Her current project is a book of essays, prose-poems, and poetry, reflections/meditations on love and loss after the passing of her wife.