Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Birdbrain

When Mother forgot
a name there on the tip of her tongue,
left the faucet running,
wondered if she had locked the door,
she’d exclaim,
“Oh, I’m such a birdbrain.”
But the accusation was delivered with
laughter in her eyes.
As a child, not realizing the deprecating
nature of her remark,
I thought the phrase to be high praise.
After all, birds flew
thousands of miles each spring
to return to the same back yard tree.
Little did I know then
that on her deathbed, with dementia’s
gloss darkening
those eyes, I would close my own
and picture Mother as
part of a courageous migration,
no longer needing to be concerned if
she’d left the iron on.

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Life Cycle

At some point we become “white dwarfs,”
the years inside of us
crushed by gravity, compressed and dense,
as we jettison vanity’s
remnants to perpetuate life’s intense core.

The passage to a “black dwarf” state is
fueled by memory alone;
transitioning into a ghostly dark silhouette,
dim among luminescence,
science strains to see what we remember.

What awaits beyond that is a “black hole,”
Biblical in conception,
where our trapped light, swallowed whole,
expectantly persists,
a patient seed consigned to bloom again.

Far Too Near Not To Be Real

As a child I was too frightened
to venture down our dark basement steps,
knew there were long-legged
beasties in its depths, warned my sisters
that hidden ghouls and ghosts
were eager to possess all who trespassed.
At night, I imagined them
coming for me each time our furnace awoke
with the thump of “footsteps.”
Older now, I would like to think such fears
had been left behind in the past.
But wide awake still, I am listening again
to another monster’s approach,
unable to wish it back into the shadows.
Despite my insistent denial,
this time, the dark news of the world is
far too near not to be real.

A Wounded Heart

To console a wounded heart
fix the bandage of your ribs around it
gently as you would fingers
around some rare and delicate bird
Squeeze with a breath
but not so deep as to cause any harm
As with a broken wing
care is required if it is to soar again
In the safety of that cage
the gentle pressure of commiseration
conveys time’s healing balm

Reconstructing

When reconstructing my grandparents’ house,
what I remember first are its scents.
The downstairs stale with cigarette smoke,
haloing my grandfather enthroned
in his living room chair, a drowsing Buddha.
Its upstairs, musty and dim,
home to three inquisitive boarders sure to
creak open their doors a crack
whenever I climbed to visit Great-Aunt Minn.
The kitchen, Grandmother’s domain,
where odors varied from day to day, depending
on what was on the stove and
which backyard flowers were now in bloom;
a few harvested for her mason jar.
I’d arrive after swimming lessons, my suit still
damp and smelling of the pond,
drawn by the possibility of lemon-lime pop
and a whiff of freshly baked cookies.
In the drowsy heat of an August noon hour,
we’d camp on the front porch in
the sickly-sweet fragrance of summer days.
With no sound or movement
on that side street, except for honey bees,
I was intoxicated, as were they,
by the perfume of white-throated petunias.

With Time’s Passage

His visits are few and far between.
When he comes, no words are exchanged.
The past no longer incriminates
either of us; love trumps such disputes.
Our eyes meet with affection.
With time’s passage, I’ve grown older,
he has regressed to middle age.
Life and death’s border has narrowed.
Last night I saw a child asleep in
the back of a car, curled into the nest of
his father’s tobacco scented coat.
Trusting and innocent, he awaited arms
to cradle him gently to bed.
In that dream, I found myself being lifted,
the boy now heavy with age.
Even though I’ve become older than he,
Father bore me safely to dawn.

At A Certain Age

Sleep at a certain age
does not obliterate, it manufactures.
There are so many memories,
fears, and regrets to untangle and
weave into coherency.
The rumpled truth requires ironing;
honesty has nothing to
do with the garment presented us.
Gone is a healing absence
once taken for granted as our due.
An audience held captive,
sleep’s busy storytelling intrigues,
ripe for interpretation.
But half-awake, at a certain age,
how rarely it satisfies.