The point

She said she had lost her purpose
and that life had no point
now that there was no one left
to take care of

“You can take care of me”, he said
all he had ever wanted
(forgotten by his mother in a childhood
with a cast of thousands)

Then he brought her children
from the street
orphans, strays
and derelict men

She baked and scrubbed, and
put up the wash for all of them
until they went their way, then
sat and watched the sun go down

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Brain matter(s)

Sunset and reflection

It scares me when I find myself forgetting things so young. I wonder how bad it will get before it is over. I like to think it is temporary.  My hold on language that I felt very sure of at 18 and even at 38 feels more tentative now, like I am clinging to a rock cliff. That is why I can’t let go of it, and I constantly look for new expressions and inspiration. Then I find a page with words on it in my handwriting. I don’t remember it. I won’t complain, because I am not blind, and this is not cancer, and I have friends dealing with both of those, much more gracefully than I would. But it frightens me, and so I wanted to tell you.

I appreciate friends who may not understand, but extend kindness when I forget things or ask them to repeat something they have told me twice. At times I see something I have handled as if I am seeing it for the first time. Recently noticing others who are transparent and honest, I felt pulled to say this aloud, when I prefer to hide it. I am sure I am not alone in it.

seeing a sunset
each time you kiss my hand
this fairy tale

A matter of life and death

She said that ever since
he had been gone
she felt like
a half pair of scissors
since they took him away
and put him in the ground

For two months she was
scared he could not breathe
knowing not to say this
to anyone, because
it sounded crazy even to her

Six months out she learned
how to mow the lawn, and hired
a man to dig up the garden
where neither of them
planted anything

In the winter he cleared the snow
and salted the stoop and the walk
up to the door of her car, then
they would have coffee together

By the second spring
she watched him
spreading grass seed
and noticed the way his hair lay
against the nape of his neck

That autumn
they planted tulips together

devotion

I visited an old friend
and I said, ‘where is your husband,’
she said, ‘he is having a mid-life crisis, and
his penis is in the garage.’
I opened the garage door and saw a cherry red convertible
Ford Mustang
and had to laugh
I knew
that he did not keep it in his pants
but I wasn’t expecting to find it there
taking her place. I think
she liked when he was poor and in need
of cash, driving a beat up Chevy he hated
because he was always home
and always devoted

Visiting

cafeteria.JPG

 

I went to a local nursing home to visit my friend. She turned 93 on her birthday yesterday. I hadn’t been able to reach her by phone. Bad timing and bad luck. I would call during a meal that was earlier than I expected, or she would be at physical therapy or a Bible Study down the hall. I could have interrupted, but it seemed best not to. Today though, I felt I ought to go find her. I hadn’t seen her in a month, and I didn’t want her to think I had forgotten her birthday. Her husband was there and told me she was in the cafeteria. Walking to the lunch room I saw faces I recognized, but could no longer put names too, familiar faces from my relatively small town that helped make up the quilt of a place. Seeing their faces again filled in the empty squares. I had missed them and didn’t know it. They were simply in this peaceful place, trying to get well. Some had family coming. Others have outlived their families and work the days as best as they can by reading or talking to the other residents.

When I found my friend’s table, she had a smile upon seeing me. Lunch wasn’t served yet, so we talked some, and caught up. She asked if I had remembered her birthday yesterday, and I told her I had, only I could not find her. She said that they had let her go home with her family for a few hours and enjoy her birthday there. I told her I loved her and gave her the fudge I made, her favourite treat, which she has told me many times that she used to make as a young girl after school. I kissed her and hugged her shoulders and left, again, seeing faces I had not seen in years, some ghostly now, others seeming to recognize me as well. Walking out into the sunshine and sliding my sunglasses from the top of my head to cover my eyes, I felt changed. It was a daily, mundane experience, but I was changed by the love of people for the rest of their town that is slowly becoming another town entirely.

like at your home
birds still sing at your window
sanctuary

 

because joy helps you to swallow

roses.jpg

each day my resolve
weakens
under a burden of years
with one truth to be
self-evident
that we did not think
everything through

in these hours
I sweep fetid memory
under his favourite chair
each moment of hell
relegated to the pantry
behind the oatmeal
no one will eat

it is best to leave way
for new sweet minutes
when I am kinder
and remember smiles
like that time
he left his tea
atop the car
and we laughed

The hair on your chest

No one told you
when you were half naked
pressed up against the wall
touched until you were brand new

No one told you
when you were drowning in love
and falling through promises
cherished beyond breath

They never told you
that day when eternity was vowed
and she touched your chest softly
and felt your head explode when you came

That some day
she wouldn’t want to touch your hair
anymore. That someday he would not want
to hear your voice except to answer him

Does she know you have
gray hair on your chest
Did he look into your eyes and see
that you are still twenty-five inside

They never tell the truth
about what happens after.
Don’t be bitter-don’t be cold
but they really should have told us

69.

I see the end coming
far off
(but sure)
I feel the pull of the earth
weakening
when it used to hold me tight

my eyes blur
you are hazy there where you sit
nearly with me
but somewhere else
at the same time
the fog rising between us

I see the end coming
far off
(but sure)
the aches are greater
when it rains
your anger is greater
when I cry

and I wonder why
I have failed
to dredge up empathy
among the roses
this dry spell of months
is heavy to drag behind