Posts Tagged ‘grief’

I so wanted to love this sunset,
so many moments here
I waited with the sand
fleas, the whip of sea
oats on my cheek
in the whirling wind.

But all I can consider
is that dream about my mother,
the way she walked still,
how she fell in the dream
like the man we saw
at the restaurant by the lake,
face-first flat with his walker rolled
down the aisle between the table-boats.

She was there in the dream,
laid out like that man,
head lolling and eyes
domed like a red-furred tarsier.

In the dream, my phone
had slipped from the flannel-front
pocket of the shirt I’d scavenged
from some evicted neighbor’s things.
Too late I’d hooked it from the lake,
hand a claw, a yellowing leg
of a hag’s hut. And the only passerby
refused, no matter how I begged,
to wait with my mother while I ran.
Ran. When I returned she’d gone somewhere.
The lady, and my mother.

So I have to tell you, fish, tell you pier,
tell you barnacle bisecting my palm
as sand shifts and I stay my fall,
I tried so hard to love this sunset.
Now my back’s to you.
Now my calves quake as I climb the dunes.

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I thought I saw you
this morning in the market.
You held a basket of fennel and watercress,
and you plucked the best
of the Brussels from a pile that lay
in the inclined tray
between the turnips and the leeks.

The red’s barely back
to the leaves, and I thought
for a moment the color had come back
to your cheeks.

A particular curl of hair had caught
my eye, and the thoughtful way
thumb and finger tested
the flex of the beans, but it was only

a second before I knew
it wasn’t you. Though, I suppose,
there are worse impossible things
to think I’ve glimpsed among the rows.

Liner note

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This poem should be a novel, but I have no
novel in me, just a memory: fading Christmas tree
against chain-link fence in snow, my mother –
whose hands had painted the aurora, shucked and silked
cords of corn, combed fleas from the gray tabby cat
I’d rescued by the swing set at age five – finding a better

use for a dying tree than dying. She resurrected the storm, better
hands and fingers shaking limbs until no
drifts still clung to avalanche upon me. The cat
was still a kitten then, but when we went in she scaled a tree
a story from backyard to side porch, like a silk
assassin. Inside, my hair snarled from the toboggan, my mother

told me stories of her mother’s stepmother,
of forks and tangled hair, and how I had it better,
while I cried and she brushed my hair to silk.
In summer I kicked off my sandals, ran until my feet were black, put no
thought to combs and tangles, carried a radio up a tree
to listen while I coaxed the cat

to join me in the redbud’s fork. The cat
was never anything but a wondrous cat, but my mother
made believe, played guitar, palmed snowy spirits into trees,
crafted my bed into a boat, read books made better
by turns and voices. Her afternoons held no
patience, but once the kettle quieted, she smoothed our sorrow to silk.

Grown, in my own home, in my threadbare silk
pajama bottoms, brushing the fur from my own cats,
I remember calling weekly until no
words were left, but before my father had to hold the phone to my mother’s
ear, their endless autumn dwindling like drying husks, never better
than the morning spent shouting a snowstorm from the tree.

There is no spirit waiting in the trees,
no drug to draw neurons out like new-spun silk,
no ear of corn to make her better,
no magic to craft a bus from a cat
to take me to when my mother
had hands and a voice, no

dream, anymore, as I sleep with feet tucked under cat,
of seeing resurrected health as I comb the beach with my mother.
Now dreaming, lucid, I ask, “Am I awake?” And I answer, “No.”

Liner note

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In memory of Elisabeth Sladen

Inevitable as invasion
of mint through the rose,
ivy crowding out the mortar:
the moment of companion left behind,
every instant after buckling
under fragrant weight of stem and vine
rooted in a deep transcendence of time.

Unpullable tenacity,
from under leaf and stolon to decide
to love an absence from next week and yesterday,
from the outer fling of time and space, and say,
“I can save the universe without you.”

Yet, processions of moments still precess,
the thread of time,
the hedgerow trained in vine,
all spiral out, undone.  The instant of companion gone
beyond the reach of age: inescapable
as mint usurping rose,
ivy undermining wall,
inevitable as invasion.

Liner note

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