Sibilance

This small room holds more

Life than I can understand.

 

Her body rumbles.

An odd sibilance

fills my ears with drones

and soon to come death.

 

Not sleep. Not coma.

Surely not life.

 

A pall spreads within

my heart’s chambers

As I know she is not

long for this world.

 

You sleep on a cot

your breath even

though sometimes you snore,

mimic her rattle and hum.

 

For a moment you, her child,

breathe in unison with her.

Your life in communion

with hers as it was when you

were born fifty nine years ago.

 

Bereft, I alone witness

your corporeal union

Just as I alone witness it’s

cessation at her last breath.


For Maureen, who left us on Saturday, May 17. Thank you for your life, and your son who is my love.

Release

Mourning Doves by Flickr User Goingslo

My bicycle wheels turn.
Roll away stress.
Soft evening. Moist breezes
Blow from the ocean across
Rivers and creeks.

Magnolia and gardenia.
incense in this chapel
cleanse my mind.

Four mourning doves
waddle in the sandy gravel.
As they fly, they voice
a plaintive song,
beat their wings,
call to mind my son.

He never could pronounce
Dub. His childhood lexicon
comprises our family vocabulary.
Speaks to my heart
as I spin into the
reason I went riding.
To release the family
that will not be.

Photo credit: flicker creative commons user Goingslo

Arbor Day

Adjusted Small-Potted-Pear-Espalier

He resembles Alfred Hitchcock
as he trundles his topiary
up the hill. Leans to
the burden. His ass
bobs Up. Down.

He rests. Shoulders slump.
Turns; gathers his jacket of black silk.

I am made.
His eyebrows lift
at my appearance in his lane.
Brows crinkle. Wide rictus.

Abandoned. The thought leaves him.
Face slack as the lake on a calm day
He vanishes. I am alone with a
marvel of the orchard.

Delighted. I gawk.
Heavy oval fruit. Branches bow
weighted. Luscious limbs.
Compelled. I approach.

Reach to caress terminal leaves.
It unfurls to me.
My hand caressed.
My body embraced.

Wonder surges.
Affection wafts pollenating.
Fogs my senses.
Tears trickle my cheeks.
I’ll be damned,
I am loved.


Heaven knows where these things come from. This poem was a very intense dream that tunneled itself into my consciousness the other morning and awakened me and would not let me go. I suppose I was celebrating Earth Day in advance? Or perhaps I was reversing the fate of Eve in the Garden of Eden?

My photo illustration is a composite of images from flickr creative commons users vosburg_09 and  Dean Croshere.

She is Just Away…

Forget Me Nots in my Mother's Garden

My mother is in China.
Visiting Tiananmen Square.
The Forbidden City.
Viewing 800 ceremonial buildings
containing 9,999 rooms
and a courtyard for 100,000 people.

She walks through Beijing’s ancient narrow hutongs
Learning about the daily life of the ordinary.
Then the Summer Palace, where the Imperial court lived
Every year from April to October.

On to the peaceful valley of the buried Ming emperors
Later to the Great Wall,
Undulating up and down the Badaling Hills
Marveling at great stone towers she learns its
Curves are to defy devils and demons,
Who only travel in straight lines.

At the Temple of Heaven
a series of elegant circular structures
Reaching for other realms
She hears of rituals of servility
for release of sins

I follow her progress in the itinerary,
subject to change.
With no telephone numbers,
no hotel address,

There is no way to picture her
visiting these places.
I have no photos, no book
to show the way.

I am reassured that she will have
a welcoming dinner of traditional Peking duck
with a lively acrobatic show during dinner,
after which she can relax during the evening
and gather her memories and new friends.


This poem was penned in 2003 when my mother was in China. Each day of her trip I tried to picture her doing some of the things that were described in the very formal, old-fashioned itinerary that was provided by the tour company. Some of the phrases in this poem are “found” in that I lifted them directly from the itinerary. While she was gone, I realized that I had no way to contact her, no way to communicate. And it struck me that her traveling to China was giving me a foretaste (way in advance I hope, as she is still wonderfully vital and active) of how it may be when she is dead and gone. Then I’ll have no way to communicate with her, no way to see her, no knowledge of how she is. The formality of the itinerary and its stiff language made me think of the Victorians and their journeys and then of Victorian era poetry. The title of this poem refers to James Whitcomb Riley’s poem “She Is Just Away”. If you aren’t familiar with his sentimental Victorian poetry, you might find this Wikipedia entry interesting.