Flatland (A Friday Original Poem)

Flatland

He said his grandmother
Could cook bacon
So that it would come out completely
Flat
Without using a press
and he didn’t know how she did it/

His Great Aunt Mary
Was an old-time switchboard operator
Who wore bright red lipstick
and smoked unfiltered cigarettes
Until she died in her 90s.

I always think they were Lucky Strikes,
but I always get it wrong.

His maiden aunts
Lived in a time capsule of an early century
Hoarding and seldom
leaving the house
full of the past.

Sometimes the present
Is just too much.

Daily gratitudes:
Beautiful days
Yesterday’s walk
A fine whiskey
Clean sheets
Strength

Quote of the Day: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” — Mahatma Ghandi

Mt. Anticipation (A Weekly Friday Poem)

Slivers of sun peek through sodden skies
As the tender tendrils of spring
Tremble in the breeze.
deceptive wind
deceptive warmth
teasing clouds
Where is it coming from?
Where is it going?
How strong
How stubborn
How painful
How powerful
How tragic
We wait,
Me
and the harbingers of spring
tentatively tucked up
for whatever the storm brings.

Daily gratitudes:
Tuna steaks
A day warmer than expected
My pirate mask
Friday
A quiet day

Quote of the day: “Snow falling soundlessly in the middle of the night will always fill my heart with sweet clarity.” — Novala Takemoto

Let’s Talk About Death

Because not a lot of people want to. I am not one of those people. I’m not what would classically be called morbid, but I have an affinity for death. I’m not afraid of it. I feel like I’ve lost an inordinate amount of people in my life. It’s something you expect when you’re older, but honestly, I’m not THAT old. It may be that when death touches my life, it leaves a fingerprint that is never erased, that I am always aware of, even if it fades a bit. I’ve never met another person with whom I have this in common.

The suitcase of death is more like a ship-size steamer trunk — or maybe like trying to move an entire house one pickup truckload at a time. There’s a lot to pack and unpack, so this will no doubt be the first of many such chats. I’m not even sure where to start. I think I’ll start with today.

I’m losing a friend. She’s dying. She has been dying slowly for years, not in the way that we all are, but from an illness that has gradually robbed her of her zest, her boundless enthusiasm, her sharp wit, and her tremendous artistic skills. She fought her illness for years, and she fought hard, but there was no way to stop its progression. She is tired of it. She’s ready to go now. I think that readiness to go is often what ends up allowing death to come. It is a different experience from sudden death by accident or violence, or from suicide. It is not quite making peace with dying, but just being ready to stop living. Those two things are not the same.

She was awake and “with it” the other night, and so I had a chance to say goodbye. Even though this is what she wants, and she knows what’s happening, her family told me that we’re not actually “saying goodbye”. Just visiting her and telling her we love her. Which is what I did. But it felt so awkward. Somehow incomplete. Death has walked by my side for so long that, in situations where it’s right at the door, telling it to stay outside just seems wrong. However, I will always honor a family’s wishes. I listened to her sons tell stories of growing up. And I told her I’d see her again. Which I will, somewhere, someday.

Driving home, I shed a few tears. I wasn’t exactly crying — I was leaking, as I did for days before my Mother died. I was thinking about how my ability to vocalize death’s thoughts and comforts had been silenced, and how, in that situation, I was at rather a loss as to what to say. I questioned whether my plan for my next career as a Death Doula is the right choice for me, given the awkwardness I had just felt. (I still think it’s the right choice.) Every death is different. It’s a different experience for every person, whether they are the one who’s dying or one who’s left behind. This death is a different experience for me — which, when you think about it, makes it absolutely normal. It’s just another step along my path. Along all of our paths.

Daily Gratitudes:
Blue skies
My pumpkin bread
Friday
Coffee (even if it has to be decaf)
That my blood donation was sent to a hospital to help someone needing a transfusion

Thursday’s Original Poem

I started writing as a poet half a century ago. On the previous blog, I shared some of other people’s poems that I loved on Wednesdays, and one of my original poems on Thursdays. I haven’t decided if I want to have a Weekly Wednesday poem in this blog, but I would like to challenge myself with the Original Thursday Poem. That starts today. Thanks for reading.

There Are Days (Today)

There are days (today)
When the cold kudzu
curls its tendrils round a body,
Slowly pulling it in
to that unseen place
Never to be found.
When the largest of mountains
are consumed by the sky,
Cutting off twilight
abruptly,
Leaving just a cloak behind.
When the round moon
turns her silvered face
Towards the west
and
Looks down with love.
When one woman
holds another’s fragile hands,
Green eyes gazing long into blue,
Because there are no words
to say goodbye.

I am also reinstituting daily gratitudes, because they are good for my soul and make me notice the little blessings I encounter throughout the day.

Daily Gratitudes
Long talks with my sister
Snuggly cats
Sun melting snow
K’s happiness with her truck’s new clutch

Snow and Winter Blues

It is a cold and unfriendly day today, gray and snowing. Champagne snow, as opposed to the big chunky, happy flakes that seem more like someone up above is pouring them from buckets in the heavens. Those kind of snowflakes remind me of the ones we used to cut out from folded paper as children and hang in the windows of our classroom. Or, in the case of childlike adults such as myself, on the windows of my downtown office building.

On days like today, I try to warm the house with soup and broiled brussels sprouts, for which I have just developed a fondness after a lifelong distaste. And after work, a sherry glass of Creme de Violettes and Wilke Collins’ ‘The Woman in White’ on Masterpiece Theatre.

This kind of weather makes my hands ache, a precursor to the arthritis which my Mother had. When I moved to Colorado as a younger woman, I wanted snow. Growing up in the South, it was such a lovely rarity. I lost some of my excitement for it when I lived in Boston, as the city turned the snow dirty so quickly. Even here in the West, I’ve never warmed to winter sports. I’m not a fan of downhill skiing, though I enjoyed cross-country skiing (is that the old term for it?) occasionally, and snowshoeing the one time I tried it. We may pursue the last activity in the woods around the Retreat, where we will surely get more snow.

I’m particular about my snow preferences – it should either be feet or none at all, not just an inch or two that makes the roads slick and requires a half-hearted effort at city-mandated shoveling. Give me all or nothing. Go big or go home.

Tonight, I’m cuddled under blankets on the couch, Mr. Man at my side, watching the day dim from light to night, feeling a little blue. I look forward to snuggling with M on nights like these when we’re both established in the Retreat, and we can help each other see the beauty that I know is hidden in winter.