Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘death’

The Gift


 
It still had its leaves on it,
the pomegranate she handed me.
And holding that smooth red sphere
in my palm, I felt not only
the jeweled weight of each bright seed,
but also the weight of the many nights
the fruit had hung on the tree,
felt how the nights had slowed the growth
so the fruit could develop more sugar.
Not all things get to ripen.
 
Oh, this small gift of sweetness.
How it opened in me such red tenderness—
the memory of a boy learning how
to open and eat a pomegranate,
scarlet juice trickling down his chin.
And now. I hold it in awe,
this beautiful thick-skinned globe,
hold it less like a fruit,
hold it more like a love
I was just beginning to know.
 

Read Full Post »

Porosity




And so I learn I am porous—
learn I am not just dust,
but soil. Everything
moves through me.
I am not the container
I believed myself to be,
but a portion of earth
more other than self.

In a dream, I was told,
The body is permeable
to life and to death.

I want to remember
that voice. I want to remember
how it feels to be earth,
to know the self as both living
and dead.

I want to remember how absence
has never felt more holy,
how its sacredness is rivaled
only by the holiness of what’s here.

No separation, said the voice.
Remember.

I want to remember
the infinite dark inside
each infinite moment,
how both soil and time
are planted with stars.

Oh sweet teachings
that I cannot understand,
how they spiral out
like galaxies inside me,
how they slip
like loose soil through my hands.

Read Full Post »




Perhaps three years ago
my son gave me three paper slips,
each one an IOU with his name and phone number
and the promise to do whatever I asked him to do.

I saved the slips in my bathroom drawer
where they mingled with hair ties
and toothpaste tubes,
until a month ago, when I wrote on one
in small blue cursive,
Please send a sign to your sister you love her.

And today, two months after his death,
a single postcard came, addressed to my daughter,
a postcard sent from Minnesota
but written in his hand.

It doesn’t say I love you. It’s a photo
of an old marketplace in Cusco,
a city he visited one week before he died.
He tells her about it, says it’s a place he enjoys.

And there, on the four-by-six cardstock,
unfurling between his handwritten words
is the unsaid message she seldom heard—

You’re important to me.
I love you. I miss you.
I’m grateful you’re in my life.

Consider this poem a thank you letter
addressed to what I can’t understand.
Thank you for finding a way to say
the words that couldn’t be said.
Thank you for letting an absence
tell a larger story. Thank you
for unusual postage.
For wonder. For special delivery.

Read Full Post »

Reconciling




And there on the statement,
between the hardware store expense
and the do-it-yourself car wash,
was the charge
for Henderson and Sons Funeral Home.
How to reconcile this tide of loss?
Nowhere in my books
is a column for devastation.
No account for anguish,
for the loss of a slender young man
who loved ice cream
and cherries and helped me
roast pumpkins for pie.
There’s no way this number
on the statement can equate
to the boy who threw rocks in the river,
who snuggled with me
on the couch before school,
who built cars out of cardboard
and shish kebob sticks.
I can’t make it equal the seventeen years
we swam and hiked and baked
and sang—nor the years
he wept and raged and ached,
those years I learned how to pray.
In these unmoored days,
when I am more driftwood than boat,
I float through the churning wreckage of hope
and beg myself, stay open.
I lack the callous math
for such reconciliations.
I sob into the columns,
and the heart takes the lead—
it knows nothing of counting, of sums.
It knows only to love, to love.

Read Full Post »

Waxing



Moon broken, my son said
when he was two,
and he pointed east
to the quarter moon.
Mommy fix it.

He believed I could.
I wanted to believe it, too,
wanted to believe
I could fix any broken thing—

the loose button on a doll,
the ripped page in a book,
a scraped up knee,
a tattered dream.

Tonight I gaze
at the low crescent moon.
I have lost my belief
in fixing.

Count me among
the broken things.
And my son is gone.
And my son is gone.
And the beautiful moon slips lower
into the almost dark.

Read Full Post »



 
 
Years from now,
I want to remember
the way tears
became white doves
and flew away,
the way stepping stones
appeared to help me
cross an impossible
river, the way
a crumpled letter arrived
from the dead
to proclaim
I am surrounded with joy.
Oh woman who lives
in my skin years from now,
don’t try to pretend
it didn’t happen.
It did. A rainbow
blossomed above
your shoulder.
Your head opened up
to receive golden light.
Life wrapped its strong hands
around your heart.
And when you asked
your son, Are you close,
you felt against your ribs
a knocking
from the inside.

Read Full Post »


 
 
For two hours, I am the woman
who works at the orphanage, the woman
who falls in love with a man from India
who is not who he says he is.
He and I make love for hours beneath a mirror,
twining our limbs in a sea of silk,
and he shows me the pleasure
of losing the stories I’ve told myself
about what is possible with love.
When, after many pages, we arrive at happily ever after,
I find myself on the couch in my kitchen,
notice my own thick legs curled beneath me,
my own raw heart in my tired chest
doing its faithful work. I’m surprised
to return to my own story:
the woman who is grieving—the woman
in the empty room who listens
for the voice that isn’t there, who listens
for the footsteps that do not come.
I am the woman whose son took his life;
rewrite: I am the woman still learning how to love him.
For the last two hours, I had forgotten her,
had forgotten this woman whose story I know as my own.
I had forgotten the ache she carries,
the constant throb. Though it cuts, though it wounds,
I am so grateful to return to her life,
to her story—the story of how she gave her everything
to someone she loved, how she knows he loved her, too.
Though their story isn’t one she had wanted to live,
it’s the story she would never give up, not a second of it.
He is still teaching her, even now, even now.
Such a gift to be this woman being rewritten by love,
love with its infinite ink. Even now,
she meets the next blank page of her life.
Love holds the pen.

Read Full Post »




In these days when the torrents of grief flood deep,
when sorrow pools like blood on the floor,
in these days when I can do nothing but meet this moment,
when I am too spent to say hello,
love comes to meet me where I am.
It holds me while I cry. It cradles me where I sit.
It steps with me as I walk. There was, at first,
a moment when I tried to push it away,
alarmed by this onslaught of love.
Too much, I protested, arms up in resistance,
but love obliterated my no.
It moved in to hold me from the inside,
slipped into my tissue, my bones,
it infused itself into each tiny cell, each organelle,
and made inside me a home. Since that moment,
I am never alone. Now it is love that moves my hand.
Love that shapes each word. Love that helps me rise.
Love that pours the tea.
Love that wakes with me in the middle of the night.
Autonomic love that makes the heart beat,
autonomic love that makes the lungs breathe.
autonomic love that meets the impossible grief
and surrounds it with an impossible grace.
Love that grips me around the heart
as if to save me from drowning.
Love that murmurs again and again,
I’ve got you, Sweetheart, I’ve got you.

Read Full Post »

 
As Francis lay dying
in his humble hut,
he wrote a praise poem
that honored Sister Death.
And when death came
to dance with him,
he did not shun her
nor shame her nor
push her away.
He embraced her
the way he embraced
the sun, the wind,
the water, the air.
He claimed her as family,
as dance partner, guide.
Oh Francis, here
in the hut of my heart
is a wooden box of ashes
about the size of a baby.
I can cradle it, carry it,
sway with it slow
the way I once did
with the boy in the box, now dust,
the boy the coroner
swaddled in white.
I did not want this dance.
I stumble. I trip.
I am awkward, ungainly.
Sister Death is certain, serene.
I would have barred
the doors if I could have, Francis,
but now she walks with me,
sleeps with me, makes
dinner and cleans with me.
There is no locking her out.
She brings me the costliest gifts:
Trust in life. Immeasurable love.
Perfume of the great mystery.
I tell her I’d trade them all back
for my son. She whispers,
Oh, sister. Dance with me.

Read Full Post »

Again. Again.




Almost every spring, I forget them,
the six packs of cosmos starts on the porch.
All it takes is one cold night,
an innocence of frost.

By dawn, the buds slightly droop.
By noon, the leaves hang darkened and limp.
By the next day, they’re black.
And dead.

It’s a familiar story. How one night
changes everything. How one day
I’m blooming, thriving, alive,
the next all I’d grown is gone.

I used to believe all was lost.
I used to throw the whole plant away.
But I learned what is dead serves as a blanket
to protect whatever still lives.

Wait, and in days, a tiny green filigree
emerges from the base.
In a month or two, it’s a bask of blooms,
no trace of how bleak it was.

Such tender study, the cosmos.
Blame is no part of their process.
They let what’s been lost be of service.
They know they are here to grow.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: