Friday, January 3, 2014

On Finishing a Book

Looking back, I often wonder if the moments
before my mother died moved as quickly
as the pages in a book - knowing death is
imminent, knowing that only words exist
between you and the end of a life you've
followed for days and days and chapters
and chapters - but still the same inner
slowness, because you can never read the
words any faster, or perhaps are afraid to
look ahead, and every tick of the clock
is the same size, the same second to minute
length, and it's only you, you realize, who's
moving slowly, and the anticipation is what
makes the moment seem so quickly to be over.


The Ladies Who Lunch [at the bookstore, on Monday, when it rained]

While the drip-drop falls, and the rat-a-tat sounds
on flowered umbrellas held high over high-lit hair,
they arrive, shim-shaking off the silver drops
and discarding sandals to rub-rub feed on worn rugs
until plat-platting shoeless across wooden floors
to be greeted by the "hey there" and the "there you are"s
that sound around the corner from the ladies who lunch
- this hour every week -, and the clink-clatter of silverware
and tsking of napkins and wine glasses soon
carry across the shelves of books and blend with all
the pitty-patter of the rain, a cacophony of
glowing sounds and happy Monday morning music,
ours and Nature's symphonies, as the outdoors
lunches with them, all smiles and showers,
and noon-o-clock noises.



They lined up at the doctor's door,
like little ducks with broken wings,
And one by one they asked
to be relieved of aches and other things.

And Death, that subtle shadow standing
with them, gave a gentle nod,
went round the back and met
them at the exit door, with open arms.


I'm Wearing You, Today

I'm wearing you, today,
surrounding myself in layers of your
blues, and pinks, and greens;
stepping into you, pulling you on
and buttoning you up around me
like a second skin, a magic
I can carry with me while we're apart.
It's the closest I can get to
keeping your legs pressed against mine,
your arms around me, and your
breath hanging on my neck
as I go throughout my day,
in anticipation of colliding again, tonight,
with the browns and tans
of your eyes and skin as, once more
drinking in the wines of your lips,
this second skin sheds
at the touch of your hands.



The couch was smaller than the bed
that used to sit against the wall;
The imprint of its frame still visible,
surrounding the place where we sat
like a moat to contain our mourning.
She had died in that bed, and her breath
still hung there, days after she left -
body and all - from a room down the hall
where her husband once slept -
I remember peeking in the door to see her,
stroking his hands as he breathed his last
beneath sheets of plastic and sanitizer.
I didn't cry when she passed, but the neighbors did,
turning their heads to the ceiling
as if looking for words of comfort
she may have etched there from beyond.
She was gone, and then the bed, the couch,
and we and all its spirits with it.
Once the house emptied,
it was bought up by a restauranteur,
and soon, plates of spaghetti
were being served in spaces once touched
by love and death; wine glasses enjoyed
on tables where a washer and dryer once stood,
the last load being the washclothes used
to wash her dying forehead, and the gown
in which she wanted her body to be burned.
I never ate there, but would always wonder,
passing by, gazing in the windows,
would the food would taste better or worse,
if those people knew her name.

6/30/13, edited 1/3/14