I read somewhere
that as an experiment
surgeons write secret messages
on the top of operating theatre lampshades

which can only be seen
by two flies on the ceiling
and people rising up to die.

Though this felt-tip science
gives hovering-near-death patients
the chance to prove they’ve really been there

so far none who claimed to return
could recall what was written.

Would reading the back of an unwashed shade
or the front of an unsmudged forever
concern you at such a time?

Of course the message can never be revealed
but perhaps we can get the sense of it
by picturing a newspaper headline
caught in the corner of your eye

or over your left shoulder
just as you step from the train
to meet someone you’ll always love.