Saturday, February 16, 2019

Breaking

He sits, slumped, at the table,
nose almost but not quite buried
in the cauliflower she so carefully braised,
hoping to stimulate his waning appetite.

She’s breaking, I can see, though she hides it well.
Nothing in her highly successful life
has prepared her for the pain of this:
the agony of watching as he writhes or slumps in defeat,
the sudden cries of pain, the lack of sleep; the odors, so pervasive,
the opioid prescriptions that run out all too soon;
no break in the constant watchfulness; no mobility
to plan or to anticipate a moment’s peace or a healing walk.

We watch her breaking, brittle mirror of our own mortality
for those of us who fly in, hoping to help
or say goodbye – she can’t or won’t say which --
and watch, him slumped, her breaking,
as she clears the dishes from the table,
breaking – she could throw this handmade cup against the wall,
watch its breaking match her own;
wishing back to when its clay was slumped upon a wheel
and spun to life between her highly successful fingers;
spin him back to life before he crashes into the wall
of his mortality.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The cafe of my thoughts

The cafe of my thoughts
is busy with an unexpected rush of unhappy patrons,
desperately needy for a drink of prayer,
     an extension of days, or even hours,
          or best of all, reprieve --

Some drug to keep the time from passing,
     the restaurant from closing,
          the dark waitress from removing the plate of life...

Ah yes, the chocolate

I watch as you come sliding down
     that long path on your sled,
          squealing with joy;

Watch as the dog bounds up,
     and barks, and licks your face.

Watch, and remember other snowy days,
     the taste of snowflakes on my tongue,
     the long slow slippy climb
          up to the top to speed back down again,
     the way the snow would tangle
          hardened lumps of ice in our wool mittens
     the tingling of my toes in their rubber boots
          when finally our mothers called us in,

     the redness of our cheeks, and knees,
     the wooden rack on which we humg
          our socks to drip and dry,

And always, the hot chocolate; ah, yes, the chocolate --
     marshmellows melting in our mouths...

I think I'll make some now, and skip all the rest!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The lonely cypress

She stands stalwart, braced against the wind,
her branches, furled like outstretched hands,
reach up to touch the edges of the clouds.
Alone of all her kind, at water's edge,
charcoal, etched on the vast canvas of sky,
an ocean of wonder roiling at her feet,
sunsets to crown her queen at each day's end,
and mountains to distract us in the distance.
Enchanted with the scene, our eyes inhale
the sea, cloud-spattered sky;
the evening light a symphony,
sharp counterpoint to the darkening shore.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Between the showers

The rain has stopped. Let's step outside
and find a path that we've not walked before.
Let's treat this like the new beginning we both wish it could be --
an end to tears; to winter...
Imagine there are crocuses,
edging us toward spring, toward tolerance, and reconciliation.
We could set aside our differences,
clasp hands and walk together toward the sun,
inviting all the fallen leaves to dance beneath our feet,
and smiling at the squirrels who scold us from the trees and beg
for nuts to hide away in case it's all just an illusion
and that damn-ed rain returns.
Oh, never mind, it's back:
I hear the clatter on the skylights and see the patterns on the deck:
You can close the door.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

These last months

I watch you bailing out the boat
as if there's any chance you'll sail again --
your back, so stooped with age and pain,
and still you dip, and pour
and dip, and pour,
the water in the boat is slowly ebbing,
like the life that leaves your veins.
My shoulders ache in sympathy,
but I'm silent: I cannot condemn
your efforts to convince me -- or yourself --
that all is normal.
I'll watch, and smile, and throw bread to the ducks,
and I'll pretend to lean on you as we walk to the car,
though we'll both know the truth: you'll lean on me
as long as I can stand.
You'll drive, but I'll be at the wheel,
following wherever you need to go
to make these last months easier.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The cafe of my thoughts

I've grown superstitious, now that bad news
seems to have taken a permanent place at the corner table.
The cafe of my thoughts seems interminably busy:
a never-ending rush of unexpected patrons,
desperately seeking sustenance, or prayer, or simply time --
some drug to slow the passage to oblivion,
to keep the restaurant open, keep
the dark waitress from removing
the plate of life.