Tag Archives: death

did she (part II)

a pink sun rises and her heart

beats in rhythm with the coffee that is

drip, drip, dripping in the kitchen.

 

she is warm, she is unknowing

still for minutes more, one foot

dangling casually from bed to floor.

 

someone puts the bacon on,

fat cracking fireworks from the stove

while news drones on from the television.

 

did she notice the birds

in their perfect V formation

ripping across a November sky?

 

slip the back door open just

a bit more, the dog, burly as she is

squeezes through and runs, runs, runs.

 

I’d guess they don’t look down,

from way up there it’s all just

noise anyway, it’s all the same

 

all the same.

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Death is:

a toddler dizzy spinning on the

kitchen tile, yelling out to the abundance of

silence in the room, challenging with the sound of

his own excited voice he is a startling comedic relief

 

death is food: pies, cakes, donuts drowning

in sticky chocolate stuffed with velvet creams,

coffee sizzles nearby like a waking spouse

hoagie slices stacked in potent sculptures

 

death is love

family, friends, acquaintances even

hugging every wall and every worn cushion

thrown about the kitchen, living room, hallway

spilling over to the back porch, front porch

standing in doorways with hands in pockets, listening

 

death is a deep breath

 

pull it all in,

let it all out and

 

somewhere in the distance

a city is crumbling.

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all that we cannot change

my son chases sunrays that filter in and

dance across our living room floor,

and my heart is heavy.

 

in all those late-night conversations

let’s have a child, let’s move mountains, create miracles

there was a should we? that lingered on my husband’s lips,

always.

 

life, I said. it happens all around us. it stops for nothing.

not even for the darkest of days.

we still love, we still create.

 

we chase sunrays,

shape happiness with shaking hands

 

drive cars and drink wine and laugh

and laugh and laugh

 

and then we cry for all that we cannot change.

 

but then we sigh, take another sip, compose ourselves.

hug our children and whisper I love you and watch

our favorite television shows and drown out all the badness.

 

I touch my son’s cheek

I dream of his future

still, I regret nothing.

 

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Ain’t That a Shame

 

at night I unhinge
my bones in moonlight.

maybe I dance
a little

maybe I remember him

I have ritualized dear grandfather
into my agnostic bedtime prayers.

Grandmother says she’ll
sleep through Christmas,
sleep right into next year
holed up above the awkward
holiday wishes

up where he slept, too.

and how

how has nearly a year
snuck up as quickly as

death did?

I can still smell the
cigar on his breath

the way his chest

rose
and
fell

with that rusted laugh
always the
ain’t that a shame

it is,
grandfather.

It is.

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Faith

“Love set you going like a fat gold watch.”
Morning Song, Sylvia Plath

But it would be weeks until I saw the
Black and white flicker of your real, live
Heart, its muffled whoosh, whoosh, whoosh

While your father stood dumbstruck by
My navel. We held the first, glossy evidence
Of you in our hands. We turned it over like an

Old photograph then plastered it on the fridge.
I giggled each time I reached for the milk, his
Working hands holding me, holding you.

I framed your progress all over the living room,
I showed you off to friends. My grandfather smiled his
Big, proud smile and tried his best to meet you.

I think he held you before I did. I’d barely imagined you
Before you became a beautiful, squawking thing,
A helpless masterpiece. You speak in foreign tongues

I struggle to understand. I dream you’re speaking to him.
At night your moon face makes me believe in something
I never did. I press one hand to your cheek, the other to your father’s.

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Rosemary

what if she disappeared
quick and clean as a rainstorm

would you still love her when
she is little more than earth?

perfume stale on a necktie
rosemary and basil fat in the kitchen

these things aren’t tangible
like her hands on your mouth

wheeling through the seasons
with the windows rolled up
isn’t really living, she told you

four arms, four legs
two hearts, one home
these are the roots of us

waste the days on fleeting laughter
on the way she looks at the end of the night

put on your best suit and
go puddle jumping

it won’t matter like
the way she smiles in the rain

if she wants snow in July
disembowel the Egyptian cotton pillowcases

tear down the silk curtains and
she’s queen for a day

bask in the way she ties a
perfect knot around the
neck you kiss when you’re sorry

the way she glides across the
living room and calls on the help

because when she’s gone
when she’s really, truly a memory

you won’t ache for things,
for money well spent, for her rosemary

instead you’ll keep her best in the
all of the jeweled spontaneity

in the way her body felt
so light in its blissful carelessness

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Terminal

if there was a payphone

for the other side

it’d sit unassumingly

on a broken city sidewalk

taking numbers,

taking calls,

no takers

 

but I’d shimmy up

grab the receiver like

I’d been expecting

someone,

balance it like

precious crystal

between one ear

and one shoulder,

gifted as a

trapeze artist

 

two deep breaths

a signaled hello

tell me,

I’m cringing

shaping limbs into the

mildest of philosophers

 

is it as

barren

as in

my dreams?

 

the dial tone

answers back

straight shooter

 

this elegant thing

it’s sunrise

it’s terminal

start breathing

stop dreaming

 

 

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Lucid

 

everything was buzzing with silence

when he

mummified her

in sterile sheets

the ones with the daisies

 

delicate

pinks and purples

his grandmother’s

 

she was lucid

so, so

lucid

she left and his words

rose quietly to her surface

so proudly

 

he knocked the lamp

the one on his side

of the bed

it crashed to the floor like an

amateur marching band

 

she lit up those flowers

like a hundred tiny stars

she sparkled with truth

like the fourth of july

 

he held his own head

like a bowling ball now

he ran to the closet and

locked himself inside

while their

bedroom lit up

like a smoke bomb

 

she freed herself and

blew a kiss towards the closet

good luck

she stepped over the lamp wreckage

closed the door, left him inside

 

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I was her for days

my mother left on a Tuesday

morning

tea pot screaming on the stove

the wallpaper

fifty year old paisley

peeled like potatoes in her honor

 

I touched my fingers to hers

so cold, so cold

a fixture of

sky blue highways

roadmaps at her temples

Egypt behind her knees

 

in her apartment

shelves sat thick with memory

I was elbows bent

on her favorite chair

in the parlor

everything was her, spiced

everything was floral

 

I was her for days

fleece robe, Billie on vinyl

I tore circles in the green shag rug

called the neighbor darling

drank manhattans before noon

rearranged the roses

held a 38 special to my curls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Visitor

 

The girl walked into death like walking into a coffee shop; right into that thick inviting aroma that rocks one to sleep whether you choose to drink it in or not. There was only one door, easier than she’d expected, no riddles, no guards. She still had on the same clothes she’d left in. It wasn’t dark, but it wasn’t light either, like sun sneaking in through cuts in cool stone. She spread her arms and closed her eyes and ran fingertips along the walls’ unevenness like Braille, trying hard to decipher a dream. Her life had been a single oval room, no corners to hide from the burning pass of time. She’d prayed for this all along, this lengthening hallway of the afterlife, this final sigh of relief.

Minutes passed – Heaven’s hour – and the hallway seemed to sway and stretch, reaching away from her as she navigated its barrenness. The walls weren’t changing; she felt no inviting breeze from a nearby ending. Death did nothing to stop her panic, the quickening of her unbeating heart. She thought she’d be just a cavity now. Nothingness. The undulating residue of stardust. Something inside her was stirring. “Not now,” it whispered from her throat.

She woke in the same old chair at their same old dining room table. The pieces of paper she’d scribbled on and balled up and thrown onto the floor, were now smoothed and neatly stacked in front of her, every single one blank, unused. Her cheeks were dry and when the movement came back to her fingers she found they were no longer wrapped around her husband’s pistol. Just then a breeze walked in from an open window. When she looked up her son sat just across from her, cross-legged and elbows on his tiny knees. Outside a car pulled into the driveway.

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