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Showing posts from December, 2020

Forgive, the River Says

Forgive, The river says. I am trying, I reply. You will know you have When you stop  Expecting Anything but your sister From your sister. She is who she is. You are who you are. I am the river. Flow with me.  Let go. There is nothing to expect. You have everything.

Desk Drawer

Where did all that come from? Adella asks. A desk drawer, most likely, I reply. Park Lane. Oh. What is here? Four more copies  Of Mom’s engagement announcement In the Advocate, Deeply yellowed. (Not so for the two laminated copies I found among papers that likely Came from the same desk.) A postcard from May To Marjorie: “We are here and enjoying ourselves. Give the girls ice cream.” A letter from Laurence to Marge: “I had Mom send my cards As I could only find the  Mushy type here.” From Gary to Marge: “Thanks for the sawbuck,” And a description of basic training During the Cold War. Receipts, Check stubs, A clipping about A stock-car driver, A list of Bible verse for difficult times A list of birth dates For May, her children, and their spouses and children. What is all this?  An accumulation of moments Captured conversations Between my grandmother and Her siblings and her Mom Her pride in my Mother Her attention to detail. Here was her fortune: Her family, her home.

You Loved Her So

 I sit out back And think Of the last things I said to you. I wanted to bring you here, To sit outside and enjoy the garden, To be alive with you. That nursing home Was a bad call, An express ticket To the grave. No joy, no freedom. People you see today Leave in ambulances later today, Never to return. You missed your back porch, The freedom of being at home. I wanted to share mine With you and the people you love. I could not know,  Would not have guessed, Your other daughter Would send you so swiftly to your final rest. You died when she said it was time-- Just gave up that goddamned ghost In the echo chamber of your soul That would not admit other voices, Could not recognize the sound of love. Your life was not worth the expense. She said so.   She stole your last breath. We didn't know. You loved her so. Perhaps you hear us now As we say again and again, We love you, Dad.

Our World Tuesday: Snow Smile

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  Snowfall Plowed and pushed Curls and curves Upward Treetop tall A hand-formed winter man A snowman A fleeting smile A passing dream. Our World Tuesday

Domestic Life

My call Stopped him Saved her, maybe She always went back  To the living room The noise The man she loved. I had my water. I would be OK. Everything is OK, She would say, And I would lose all sense Of time Amid lies. She loved me And tried to hold it together. That was the best she could do. He yelled and slammed and hovered Until she said those magic words: I’m sorry. And then silence came And I would listen for two sets of footsteps, Retreating voices Remembering the children are asleep, Bathroom noises, box-spring noises-- Clues she was alive. In the morning She would say I love you, honey, As he left for work. I would know then: she survived. I lived it again: The pain the fear The loud noise yelling Mom, I call. Come to me! She comes And I imagine her  A skeleton, the walking dead A tattered life. I am three, I know cartoons And TV shows with magic and witchcraft: A tattered life I can imagine. I need a drink of water. Stripped of life, My mother responds to my call. As I stop the

Desk Drawer

Where did all that come from, Adella asks. A desk drawer, most likely, I reply. Park Lane. Oh. What is here? Six more copies  Of Mom’s engagement announcement In the Advocate Deeply yellowed. (Not so for the two laminated copies I found among papers that Came from the same desk.) A postcard from May To Marjorie: “We are here and enjoying ourselves. Give the girls ice cream.” A letter from Laurence to Marge: “I had Mom send my cards As I could only find the  Mushy type here.” From Gary to Marge: “Thanks for the sawbuck,” And a description of basic training During the Cold War. Receipts, Check stubs, A clipping about A stock-car driver, A list of Bible verse for difficult times A list of birth dates For May, her children, and their spouses and children. What is all this?  An accumulation of moments Captured conversations Between my grandmother and Her siblings and her Mom Her pride in my Mother Her attention to detail. Here was her fortune: Her family, her home.

Answering the Attorney's Question

Asked what I received from you from our parents’ possessions, I say I have their wedding photo album. But there is a problem. The problem is with the first and second pages. I know this book. When I was young, I would climb the pull-down steps to the attic to look at it And to look at Mom’s wedding gown In a blue plastic bag she thought  Would protect it from sun and soil and her children. The dress is gone, But here is the album, Which you left with me in my driveway After dark With their marriage certificate Two days after Dad died. The plastic sleeve protecting The first two photos  Is mutilated, And the photos are gone. Dad’s parents are missing from this album. Dad and his groomsmen, also missing. The pages are bloated and creased, Rearranged. The album does not begin with the bride But with a torn plastic sleeve. You’ve done violence to this album, Savaging memory. You put your anger on me, But this is not my story.  I am merely a witness to your rage. The torn plastic: That is y

Love and a Sweater

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On Mom's 16th Christmas, her parents gave her a black wool ski sweater from the Darien Sport Shop. It was a big purchase and a treasured gift; Mom wore it in a portrait she made of her self for her grandmother.  The photo stood in the front window of Park Lane for as long as my Gram was alive; then, it came home with Mom.  Now it hangs in my home--where the black sweater also has a safe place.  Shortly after Mom passed last November, Dad took me to her closet and told me to take her sweaters.  There were sixty of them; it took a while.  It was hard.  Dad watched as I took down and packed up his gifts to her over so many Christmases.  There were Aran sweaters, turtlenecks, Icelandics, cashmere cardigans, pullovers.  And then some.  There were long 90's-style tunics, boxy 80s pullovers, and patterned winter sweaters. There was also the black sweater that Mom kept with her for 62 years.  I wore it to school a few times when I was in high school.  I felt no drafts those days.  When

Hermes in the Sewer

It has come to this: Civilization declines itself Right into the sewer The routine maintenance of which Turns up the likeness of Hermes-- God of cattle, travel, Fertility,  The deal Messenger of the gods Upstart from Mt. Cyllene-- Descends from Olympus  To the sewers of Athens. Son of Zeus and Grandson of Atlas, What brought you here, Made you old with thick features, Downcast eyes And a layered beard? Hermes, See how we mark our way From cairn to cairn to the end. Child of Maia Born deep in the earth-- Say how to fly again; Raise your eyes, Trouble the water, Point the way Now that we have found you In the style of Alcamenes Known for the delicacy and finish Of his works. The delicacy, yes. The finish. Yes.  In the sewer We find ourselves Wash the dirt away Enter the dream Climb Olympus Tell your father You are here. Sing. Remake the lyre.