Monday, February 23, 2009

(untitled): "Gilbert's gone"

Gilbert's gone, and I miss him,
the way I would miss a rib if you pulled it out,
the way I can't catch my breath and have to
put the cannula up to my nose. Gilbert's just gone, they
say to see his mother back home in the Philippines,
but probably we will never
see him again and there is no way
I can ever apologize to him for all the
mistakes I made or thank him for how he
helped me. These are hard lines; I may have to
turn into a different person, a kinder one, just to keep from
falling into the hole he left in my chest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Roasted (cinquain)

garlic spread on
whole wheat crackers: You can't
beat it. Good thing too; dinner was


I want to write about how it feels to know you're soon to die,
but I don't know if it feels any different than not to know. I'm
scared of
dying in a coughing fit or other undignified posture; I'd like to die
like Bob,
just quietly saying "I love you" now and then and then,
stopping. But I will die like myself, however that will be, and it
won't be
with all you guys standing around my bed singing to me, either.
Meanwhile it's
fun to remember Bob and his friend whose name I've now forgotten,
"It's Fun to be Dead" with such gusto. I hope it will be

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Room With View

no sky, just
the tarmac, sheds, a
low wall, and the bank,
the green bank where before the
weather got cold I used to see deer. Pale
sunshine comes and goes; brief
showers stir the puddles. I remember trying to
climb a hill like that and getting a hand up from a
woman dressed not like me in slacks and sneakers but in
a dress and heels. earrings, long necklace; she grasped
my hand and I was up like a pillow. I thanked, she
nodded and was on her way, leaving me stunned and
Will all the rest of my life be lived
vicariously through windows? If I owned a
nursing home I would organize walks - canes for all and red umbrellas,
sturdy companions, stops at Bagel Nosh or Starbuck's. And I would have
gang of grandsons and granddaughters swirling around, getting underfoot,
scaring the help and making us laugh but never knocking us down. Then
windows would divert us with memory, not wist. Okay, there it is,
the view: tarmac, two sheds, a low wall, the
green hill. One shed has a
wise-ass face, the other sits there, square. with no
personality. A thrush runs up the gable side
after winged food, another pecks around in the
puddles. The square shed reminds of buildings in parks that
hold toilets. Yes, walks with canes and also
singing; I don't know why it's so hard to convince these people
that we need to sing. Every time a few of us are together
just waiting around, someone will start singing and
there we all ago, Clementine, Coming Round the Mountain, we
just keep going until someone comes along with
some "activity." But now I sit alone looking across at my
postcard-covered bulletin board - three pictures of Kali there. I
invoke her daily but so far without effect. Couldn't we have an
earthquake? Sick as I am I'm well enough to help
carry sicker ones. Then at last I'd have
something to do.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Old German

What the hell was the name of it? The
German something. He said he always went there after class for
beer so I did too and there he was, Mr. "I'm not responsible."
Perhaps he wasn't. I always believed he took pride in how his
presence affected women; on the other hand I know
he didn't put on an act. In those days I had no idea how
a couple of glasses of beer would change my character, so
I entered a world then I knew nothing about. Could it have been
The Old German? Yes, I think that was it, The Old German. I wonder
if it's still there. And The Blue Front, where I went for poetry and my
husband went for nudist magazines, or sent me for them, astonishing me
finally by his rage when I mentioned this errand in front of
friends. His interest in nudity was
supposed to be a secret? This guy who hit on
every single woman (and some married ones)
he ever encountered? But then, other people's
secrets have always been mysteries to me; I'm not sure
I myself ever had one. Trying to remember my last
secret; nope, I'm a blabbermouth, don't
have secrets of my own and don't
keep other people's. Except I don't think I ever told anyone
how happy I was when one day I drove by that house he
built with his own hands and saw it had burned
to the ground. "You!"
he would say. "You
are the only
there ever has been or
ever will be." I must say I'm glad
he was the only him there ever has been; I don't think anyone
could stand him twice.

Tough (Cinquain)

Ribs hurt.
Back itches. I
can't get my breath. Feet stay
cold no matter how man-
y socks.

February in California

I want to go outside and sit sheltered and hear the
sound of the rain - the nearly silent rain that explains,
if I only knew its language, why
I have to lie here now with sore ribs and
listen, barred from walking out and getting wet. Time,
I suppose it would say. Some explanation. Time for me, though,
to get Stephen Hawking from the library and go through his
history once more, slowly. In large print, of course (because
of time?). Meanwhile I'll sleep with the sore ribs up; will
that make both sides sore by morning? I've lived through
worse & I'll survive this - just give me time.

Rain 2000 Miles and 80 Years Away

Lines from "A
Visit From Saint Nicholas" keep
running through my head, and won't
run out, or straighten out either. It's the hurricane
that's wild; the leaves
just fly. Outside my window
there are no leaves, only
steady rain, not wild either, quite tame rain and I
want to hear it but it's soundless in the night. These times I can
so fast slip back 70 years and lie in a brass bed in my
grandfather's house listening, knowing
just which trees were slippery now and which ones
I could if I went out in the night easily
climb. Once I climbed the front maple tree in the
middle of a hurricane, infuriating
my mother. What a ride. How little those years taught me
that has been of any use - but how present they still are. I
can walk up Pelham Road right now beside my
grandfather, pop open a milkweed pod and
watch the tiny parachutes adorn the afternoon. I can
slit a dandelion stem with my tongue and taste the
bitter milk as I curl it to stick in my hair. I can
paste a maple key on my nose. Chickoree, goldenrod,
asters, now and then some coreopsis in among the
rye grass. I want to think them useless memories but
joy is not useless. Then find a horse-chestnut, bore a hole in it with
Girl Scout Knife, tie the end of the string through the hole and
see how far it will go when you twirl it and let go
of the string. Far. Sometimes you lose it. Then you get out your
peach seed to whittle some more with the knife, making
a tiny basket to wear around your neck on a lanyard you
made at camp, or just
on a string. I am hungry now for the
meat of the poisonous peach seed. Bitter almonds,
before dinner. Oh, and another
seed that is good is the seed of a ripe pear. Here I am
over 80 and too sick right now to eat anything; maybe
it's the want of pear seeds that's
making me sick. But the memory - that's
making me well again.