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Posts Tagged ‘death’

 

 

grief and celebration

share the same bed—

one keeps stealing the blanket

the other

keeps knitting a beautiful new one

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She wants to go see the bluebonnets, she says.

This is after she tells me they’ve said she has three months to live.

And I want to find her vast fields of bluebonnets,

acres and acres of white-tipped blue bloom.

And I want to send her more springs to see them in,

more days to live one day at a time. I want to remove

the pain in her belly, the pain that aggressively grows.

I want to make deals with the universe. Want to say no

to the way things are. I want to tell death to wait.

I want to tell life to find a way. I want to hug her

until she believes she’s beloved. I want to give her

the pen that will write every brave thing

that she’s been unable to say. There are days

when we feel how uncompromising it is, the truth.

How human we are. There are days when the bluebonnets

stretch as far as the eye can see. There are days

we know nothing is more important than going to see them,

a billion blue petals all nodding in the wind, teaching us to say yes.

 

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A metal table in the sun. Beyond it, winter.

Two women sit, brought here by rambling.

 

One woman weeps, tears of mortality.

The other woman rhymes with her.

 

Everything rhymes eventually, though

neither of them know it yet. The grass.

 

The snow. The dirt. The way the two women lean

into shadows. It’s not that time makes demands,

 

it’s just that the women still see themselves

as separate. They grasp at the present,

 

thinking this makes them a part of it.

Meanwhile, the birds. Meanwhile,

 

the trees. Meanwhile, the cells, changing.

Meanwhile the sun slides down the sky.

 

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I fell in love, today, with the black

and blue marker stains on the table

made by the two-year-old boy—

he colored in the circles he’d drawn

with so much enthusiasm that the ink

seeped through the paper

and into the lemon cream paint on the table

where no amount of scrubbing could remove it.

 

It wasn’t so much the stain though, no,

and it wasn’t the color. What I fell in love with

was the way his mother didn’t see

that the table was ruined. She saw

that he did such a fine, precise job,

that he took so much pleasure in the coloring.

And when I apologized for bringing markers

that didn’t easily wash, she looked at me

with so much surrender and said,

“On a day like today,

who could worry about a table?”

 

It was yesterday they found the dog

waiting beside the car.

It was this morning the skier’s body was found

in a massive snow slide.

It was all day, through the stupor of loss,

I fell in love with the shape of empty branches,

the scent of black tea, the sound

of my son’s voice, fell in love

with the grace in the way my friend shrugged

when she saw the table, the way she hugged

her son. She offered me chocolate from London.

We ate the squares slowly. All day the gray edge

of grief made every little thing

more precious, more sweet.

 

 

 

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One Great Loss

—for Jack

 

 

such terrible silence

when the dog isn’t whining at the door—

the space on the dog bed empty

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Michelangelo wrote his love

forty-eight funeral epigrams—

not one of them brought back

the shoulders like chiseled marble,

the purr of his voice, his lips raw silk

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One Irreversible

 

 

 

late apology—

a week after it died of drought,

offering the plant water

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Wild and Precious

 

—for Mary Oliver, January 17, 2019

 

 

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

—Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

 

 

And when she said, “you don’t have to be good,”

my whole body became wild goose

as the truth of her lines winged through.

 

And when she asked, “what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

I walked outside and heard the low river.

 

And when she suggested we live

as “a bride married to amazement,”

I made my vows to life.

 

On the day that she died, the winter

was too warm for snow, and the rain

gave luster to every sullen thing.

 

In me, a storm threatened to rise,

but the only words that would find my lips

were thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

 

 

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The Diagnosis

 

 

 

Well, he said, I’ve seen it before.

You have all the symptoms.

Fairly common, actually.

You have life. It’s terminal.

I will give you, oh, about

forty years to live. Some people

really pull through, make the most

out of what they have left.

 

As he walked away, I listened

to his footsteps until all I could hear

was the sound of my own breathing.

God, it was beautiful, a tide, a river.

And that plant in the corner, have you

ever seen anything so delicate, so green?

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After Reading about the Death

 

 

 

It is the work of the living

to grieve the dead. It is our work

to wonder how else the story

could have gone. It is our work

to weep and worry, and it is

our work to heal. The clouds

hide the moon, hide the sun, sometimes

for days. We don’t believe

it will be forever. Some part of us

knows not only hope, but patience.

It is the work of the living

to love even deeper

in the face of death, to know ourselves

as flowers on the pathway,

easily crushed. The world crushes.

Some stems spring back,

some never rise again.

We know we must be resilient,

but resilience has wings

and sometimes flies away.

It is the work of the living

to, against all odds, grow wings.

It is our work to live—

and work it sometimes is.

It is our work to show up again

and again and again, genies

who refuse to go back in the bottle,

lovers who ever insist on love,

stems that feel sunlight and,

though we can’t yet move,

let it encourage our being.

 

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