I’m not permitted to speak when performing my duties. They need me to be implacable, calm, inevitable. If I’m not, then they think that I can be bargained with. Gambled with. Challenged to a game of chess. Tricked into going to their neighbor instead. None of that is true, and it would be unkind of me to imply that it was. So I remain silent.
If I could speak to the living, I would tell them that I am not judgement. Judgement, if it comes at all, comes after.
I would tell them that I don’t decide anything. I am the tide, and the tide makes no choice as it comes in or recedes.
I would tell them, too, not to worry so much about how they meet me, about whether they are brave, or beautiful, or proper in how they die. They may greet me with joy and relief or weep with fear, plead for mercy or offer themselves in place of another. They are all brave. They may be in the prime of fitness or creaking with age, of clear reason or addled thought. They are all beautiful.
They write poems and songs about me, though not usually the joyous ones. That’s all right. It’s difficult for them when I arrive, and if their art helps even a little, so be it. My purpose remains the same. To collect them all in their time, to accept them all in their time.
I am the tide, and I must be true.