Parting is such sweet sorrow
As my wife lays in bed, I make her a cup of tea. I think about all those years ago when we said “in sickness and in health.” I remember smiling into her eyes as I said the words. I remember holding her hands in mine, feeling like we were wrapped in a love so strong it would keep out all the ugly in the world forever.
But forever is a long time. And ugly didn’t creep in. It burst out our mouths and lived right there with us.
No one ever tells you how hard every day can be living with someone. Getting used to annoying habits, divvying up chores, trying to keep old friends. Arguing over toilet seat etiquette, crumbs on the counter, or how to put dishes in the dishwasher. No one ever tells you that adding a kid in the mix can spell disaster if you still argue over the toilet seat.
Then came house hunting. Growing family, needed more space… I think the real estate agent started a pool in her office: The odds were not in our favor. We had knock down, screaming fights about what we needed in a house. Forget what we could afford. But we did manage to buy a house. Ugly came along as part of the family.
By the birth of our third child, I’m not sure we loved each other anymore. It was all used up in worrying about paying bills, constant exhaustion and who was going to do what when and where the fuck were you until 3 am, Billy? Like I wasn’t supposed to have a life with my friends anymore just because we were married with children. I mean, I get it, it’s not easy taking care of three kids and keeping house, cooking and cleaning. But damn, I commuted four hours a day and worked long hours so she could stay home with the kids and we could live in her fucking dream house, and sometimes I just wanted to have a drink with the guys without getting my head handed to me when I got home.
And now this. She’s so sick she's withering away before my eyes and I keep thinking about those words we said so long ago. She could live another 20, 30 or even 40 years the doctors say, but she'll need constant care. I’ve stuck by her through hell, but am I supposed to keep sticking, watching her fade away and with her any hope of being happy with what life I have left to live? I don't think so...
So, that’s what got me here, holding her as she sips a cup of her favorite chamomile tea laced with a little something to help her sleep with the angels. Parting is such sweet sorrow…
Falling in Love!
In sickness & in health
I’ll be there (right) by your side
No matter what will happen
Know that I will always be ready
to face any challenge that comes.
You are my beloved, my angel,
the one I love and live for.
I promise to be there for you,
at all times of this life we’re given.
I have come to cherish all the
moments that we spend together
and I am glad, my heart’s bursting
with joy, that I get to spend the
rest of my life with you— to see
your face every morning, day and
night- when you fall sick~ I will
care for you and be ready to do all
that I can to see that you get better.
I promise to be patient, and continue
to take you out on dates, even just
getting to have movie nights with you-
for wherever you are near- that’s all
that matters to me my darling. I can’t help falling in love with you!
Where the mushroom grows is not a given, but he does put his pants on, one leg at a time before he leaves the house. Chains have links and Harry doesn't wear them on his cuffs or on his ankles; he eats them for breakfast lunch and dinner, even on Sunday mornings when Clara comes to call carrying knitting, accolades, and a toothy grin he pretends to find so unappealing but no longer says so in front of their ailing mother.
"Why can't you be here more? Your kids are in school all day. Just because I got laid off from the mill doesn't mean taking care of Mummy is my new occupation. Start stepping up to the plate Clara, before I break one over your head!"
Harry lurched his tide of uneasiness toward her, lusting to spook them both into normalcy between the walls of the narrow dying damp hallway they travelled since birth. She didn't flinch. She mirrored him. Veracious love stepped on lashes of sardonic eyes struggling to paint away the smile belonging to other faces. His idle threats were harmless, meaningless, an attempt at humor to nibble the mood down the death stair, before the mouse under the floorboards would also be seen snagged by a lethal trap.
Harry was his mother's son, the apple and the core hanging from branches refusing to acknowledge an impending fall. "She's driving me up a wall Clara. Up the wall around the bend and just about over the cliff." Harry bit his tongue on his P. T. Barnum hijink. "A free Sunday morning is not enough Clara. And by the way, wipe that shit-eating grin off your face. You're up. I'm outta here." Clara remained silent, stoic, suppressing her familial smirk. To each his own family rule. For them, the bigger the joke, the smaller the reality. Patting him gently on his right shoulder with a cupped hand, her slender fingers signaled him clocked out; it was time for a dog to shed. Puzzle pieces remained in their box when he left through the back door, and waited for his return.
Car keys in a pocket can be as idle as feet. Walking past his car, he chose the the later to occupy his fleeting floundering freedom, soil over asphalt, cardio over speed, one foot by two, venturing into the back forty where generations of his forefathers had previously planted, hunted and played. He'd finally taken to mushroom foraging. His father's passion had primarily gone unshared and under appreciated by Harry before his demise. He had even taken an online course, studying intermittently in between spoonfuls of food and pharmaceuticals, scrubbing bubbles, and the sound of a bell that he could hear in his sleep, even with the pillow over his cheeky curly brown head.
Not one hundred feet in, if it wasn't a little birdie, his dead father could have called from up above, "Look! Look behind the dead hemlock to your right; not that one; the other one!" And Harry obeyed without alarm, sticking his neck out to see, never assuming or considering anything supernatural in his midst.
"Well would ya lookie here. A doggone patch of reishi!" He knew the genus. Ganoderma tsugae. The cure for cancer. Or so they say.
His Daddy had searched this same path on his quest for a tincture cure when his beloved wife of 40 years was first diagnosed, praying upon spores in the atmosphere continually missing his plea only coming to rest at their own pace, for whom the bell tolls. For Harry's father, it had been an honor to do so in her hour of need. There was no tit for tat between them; never an empty cup, or an unwalked mile, just love and laughter.
Neither of them knew of an itch, but a love deeper than blood comes with consequence. A massive coronary put an end to his quest. The worry over her diagnosis and the stress of it all would become the last shovel of dirt upon his coffin.
It was Harry here now, not but a twinkle in their eye when his parents said "I do;" "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health," attempting to carry that load for his father and without thinking who he was speaking to, he spoke out loud without echo under the cloak of hemlock with another face.
"Do you think it's too late for her Pops? Should I pick them and cook them for her? Or sell them? I'm outta work ya know. I read on the blog I could fetch up to $35 a pound. This hear patchy's gotta be at least a few pounds. What am I babbling about? I don't care about the money! I'd do anything to save her Pops. Anything. I'm glad you are not here to see how frail, how weak, how sick she looks. She talks to you all the time. Thinks I'm you and I don't tell her I'm not when I kiss her goodnight. Clara and I, we've done right by her. You would be proud. Mostly me Pops. Mostly me. Yeah Pops. I stepped up to that plate you always chided me about. The plate. Me. Imagine. I'm up. Wish you could see me now Pops, and I you, Pops."
Harry bent down his life picking and picking the bright brownish red varnished creatures of death from the wood as if he was battling away a predator from swallowing him whole, without realizing he was too late to save her. Her last breath was taken with his best interest in mind, upstairs from where the comedy albums rested in their sleeves. Fragility collapsed into the cliff of a billowy cloud just minutes after he walked off from where he knew but didn't know she lay dying. They had already practiced a final good-bye with fiddly subterfuge. Death was not an egg needing to be flipped, it was a mother hawk protecting her nest, a structure well built for surviving a harsh winter and the decomposition of summer. It was she that had planted the conversational seed as she spread her wings, and the wind sprinkled mushroom spores into the atmosphere, salting love.
"$35 a pound is nothing to sneeze at son. Reap what you sow. There is a blanket for you in the closet. Cover yourself. Money does grow on dead hemlock trees."
The Monster Under My Bed
There is a monster that sits at the foot of my bed. I do not name it, because that would only serve to make it real. You tell me it’s real, you call it names and I press my hands over my ears, refusing to believe you. You wish I would get help, but I don’t. Getting help would mean admitting the existence of this beast. It is not real, I tell myself repeatedly, but words start to sound meaningless the more you say them.
My monster is a shape-changer of sorts. There are days when it is nothing more than a little black dog, when I can pull a leash over its neck and drag it along behind me, when I can tie it to the chair as I get dressed and carry it with me to work. On these days, I can almost forget that it is even there.
There are the in-between days, when my monster turns into a wolf whose head reaches my shoulder, whose growl seems to rattle my entire body, whose yellow fangs glisten beneath pink and black gums.
It takes the two of us to wrestle it to the ground. We tie chains around its legs, when we have chains; we put a muzzle over its jaws, when we have a muzzle. These are the days when I can defeat my monster. I make it past the edge of my bed, through the door, into the kitchen. Sometimes I even get to work. But I am tired, exhausted from the fight to keep the beast under control. Even when we tie it down, it sits in the corner of my vision, salivating at the idea of its next meal.
And then there are the Black days. I call it this because, when I wake up, the monster has grown so huge that it envelopes the whole room and wraps its great shadowy fingers tightly around my body, strapping me to the bed. I fight and I kick and I scream as loud as I can, but even you can’t fight off the shadows on these days. They are too thick and twisted and contorted. You say you hold my hand, but on these days, I can’t feel it. A gaping Black hole yawns inside my body, threatening to swallow me completely, to erase the world from existence and to throw me into a place so deep I will never be able to get out. There are days when I believe this will happen.
And I think it would, were I alone on these days.
But you wait patiently, arms stretching towards me, waiting and waiting and waiting while the Black chews away at my spirit. You wait until it grows weak, and then we take it on together, side by side. I am grateful I do not have to fight my monster alone.
I like to believe that one day, we will kill it. Together.
As Anya lay in her stiff bed, about to doze off into permanent slumber, she thought back to her life, her marriage, her husband... David. The pain was almost bearable now. It was still there, of course, it never left, but Anya was just about medicated enough that it didn’t matter.
She and David had the type of comfortable marriage that most people would have deemed pretty damn perfect. They rarely fought, there were no affairs, no jealous-ridden rows, no deep disagreements about finances, religion, or having children. It was, Anya dared say, a marriage out of a storybook. They perfectly complemented each other. David, the level-headed husband, Anya, the free-spirited, slightly eccentric wife. The stars aligned one day when they met at a birthday party for a mutual friend (neither of them could ever remember for sure which friend, funnily enough). Anya had spilled wine on David’s immaculately clean shirt (not on purpose, Anya was not that smooth) while she was goofily hopping around dancing to “Kiss with a Fist” by Florence and the Machine. Anya had been mortified, but David had laughed, apparently finding the whole thing adorable somehow, and the rest was history.
It was perfect, for a while.
But like all perfect things, it couldn’t last. Life is suffering, as they say, and Anya should have known to prepare for it. It truly was unfair. Anya was young, beautiful, and had her whole life ahead of her. Like a horrible cliche, it was all taken away in an instant. A car accident. A crushed spine. Months of therapy and an unbelievable amount of pain. It wasn’t long before Anya couldn’t function without a minimum of thirty milligrams of morphine in her system. With time, her wounds healed and her scars faded, but the pain remained. The addiction remained.
The thing about illness is that people only forgive the physical ones.
To his credit, David tried. He didn’t cut and run. He was there through the surgeries, the hospital stays, the doctor’s visits... the revolving door of rehab. Though at that point Anya could feel him slowly pulling away. She supposed it was too much to ask. How could she expect him to love someone so broken? So different from the girl he married?
The relapses were the hardest. After a few months of sobriety they would get lulled into thinking maybe... maybe this time it would last. Maybe they could finally go back to the way things were before, love each other like before. Then invariably Anya would slip back to square one all over again, and the hope they clung onto would once again become nothing but a cruel joke. Again. And again.
They say relapses are a normal part of recovery, but Anya couldn’t accept that. She couldn’t let her husband keep living through that. She knew that David inexplicably blamed himself for all of it, feeling that somehow it was his fault he wasn’t enough to save Anya from her demons. Knowing this only made Anya hurt just that much deeper, made her hate herself that much more.
The thing was that Anya really did love him. More than life itself. She loved him enough that all she wanted was to free him from this hell she had built around their lives. She was going to end it today. Finally, it would be over.
David wept throughout the entire service, silent tears dripping onto his lap, the world around him muted, gray, out of focus.
David wished he could tell his wife how wrong she was, for thinking she was a burden, for deciding for both of them that he would be better off. No, it wasn’t easy loving Anya, but loved her he did. She was one of a kind, his wife, his better half. He wished he could tell her how brave she was, for surviving, for enduring the pain, and for battling the demons that came with it.
After the accident David admired Anya’s determination to get better, how she would power through her therapy despite the setbacks, and how she would pick herself back up after each relapse. Yes, it was horrible sometimes, and there were dark moments... but there were good days too. David would miss Anya’s boisterous laugh, the way she furrowed her brow when she read her books, the way she always knew how to cheer him up when she could tell he needed it. Her mind was as sharp as they came, even when she was in pain, even when she was fully medicated.
How was it that somebody so intelligent could be so oblivious to the love that was ever present around her in abundance? Why couldn’t she see that she was his forever?
No, it wasn’t fair, the cards they were dealt, and things did change after the accident. But that was life, wasn’t it? It didn’t play fair. But if you only loved somebody when it was easy, then what did it all mean, in the end? God knows he wasn’t perfect, but if David could do one thing right in his life, it would be to fulfill his promise to Anya. But life was cruel in that way… he loved her, and he knows she loved him, but in the end, he still lost her.
David clenched his fists and wept harder. The worst part was that Anya never blamed him. The accident... it was his fault. He should not have been driving that night. He knew he was too sleep deprived, too tired, and yet he still got behind the wheel. He should have seen that other car coming. But not once, in the sordid years that came after, did she give him any indication that she resented him. Her ability to forgive him only made David appreciate the unbelievable strength his wife possessed even more. He only hoped that wherever Anya was now, she was finally at peace, and that his love for her reached even there.
The call came 15 minutes after I left Dr. Gruber’s office.
″ You are expected at the Denver Hospital within the next 3 hours. Leah, you need to leave now.”
″ What? Why?”
″ Your test result came back from the bloodwork we did while you were here. The test was to check for birth defects. If the test comes back low your baby has a high risk for down syndrome. If it’s high, there is a chance of brain damage. Your test was high. It was very high. It’s imperative that you get to Denver. Now. They are waiting.”
I hung up the phone and immediately dialed my husband’s work.
″ I need you. Can you get off? It’s important.”
“Yeah. Of course. Give me an hour and I’ll come home.”
“No. I’ll have Annie drop me off at your work. We have to leave for Denver right away.”
“What? Denver? Leah, I can’t..”
“Dr. Gruber said it’s an emergency. They’re waiting for me.”
What? Leah, what’s going on?”
“I don’t know. Something about a blood test. We’ll be there in 5 minutes.”
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I’m scared.”
I hung the phone up as Annie pulled her silver Dodge Tiburon into the Pawn Shops parking lot. James was already waiting for me in our black GMC.
“Call me as soon as you can!” Annie yelled from the driver’s side of her car as I wrenched open the passenger door. I jumped out and into the passenger seat of our vehicle. I waved goodbye as James jammed the GMC in reverse. He flipped around and pulled the beast out into traffic towards the first on-ramp heading to Denver he could find.
The drive took an hour and forty-five minutes. I did my best to explain to James what my Dr. said to me. But there was so little to go on. The words brain damage swarmed like hungry locusts hell-bent on devouring my unripened crop. Brain damage. Brain Damage. BrAiN DaMagE. BRAIN DAMAGE. B..RA.I.N DA..M.A.G.E. Our baby has brain damage. It isn’t even fully developed and it already has a defect. A deformity. I try to calm my nerves. I breathe in deeply and count to ten. But my breathing betrays as I try to exhale. I’m shaking. My breath is shuddering. My whole world is trembling. My baby has brain damage.
James held my hand as he flew down the I-40 highway at 90 miles an hour. His foot cement. He couldn’t slow down if his life depended on it. He kept telling me not to worry. To beath. He kept saying everything will be fine. His words turned into butter as they churned in my stomach. I closed my eyes hoping to stop the flow of salty tears but they broke through my eyelids and drew lines down my cheeks landing in big plops as they wet the collar of my winter jacket. March in Cheyenne Wyoming is still cold and snowy. I am dreading what will happen when we get out of the car. My cheeks are going to freeze. I hate it when my cheeks freeze. It makes me cry.
We walked into the Denver Hospital and right into receiving. Dr. Gruber was right. Once my name was typed into the receptionist’s computer an orderly was sent to escort me to radiology. We made small talk on the way up the elevator. Jokes are James and my way of alleviating tension during times of anxiety. So we joked. After all, laughter is the best medicine or so they say. We joked as I put on the hospital frock and we joked as the orderly applied the warm gel to my pelvic area and placed a towel under the elastic to protect my underwear. We laughed with the radiologist as he placed the ultrasound wand on my abdomen. We talked and laughed until the picture of our baby came across the screen in full color.
What a sight it was. I had heard of 3D ultrasounds but had never seen any pictures from one yet. This was as if they had put a camera inside of me. My unborn baby was floating in liquid. It was bright pink and fuzzy. Its hands and eyes had not fully developed as of yet and it looked like a tadpole dipped in brand new human skin.
“That’s our baby,” James whispered.
“Yes, it is Mr. Pryor.” The radiologist replied as he made lines on the screen and jotted down notes.
The ultrasound took less than fifteen minutes. When it was done pictures were printed, my belly wiped off, and the radiologist waited while I got dressed to walk us to the elevator. We said our goodbye and our thank you’s but he insisted on going down with us. I don’t know if it was the euphoria from seeing our unborn baby or if it was deeper. The not wanting to know. We continued to make jokes as we pushed the button that would take us to the lobby, but the radiologist had ceased laughing. His look became solemn. The elevator became cold and unfriendly, and as the elevator began its descent so did the radiologist. With his eyes fixed on my husband he began to speak words. His words formed sentences and his sentences forged a message I will never forget.
“Mr. Pryor, I need you to hear what I am about to say. There is a very large rip in the lining of your wife’s uterus. The placental fluid is leaking. It is a serious threat to the fetus and to your wife. If you choose to have this baby there is the risk it will die before or during childbirth. Right now it looks like the fluid is not affecting the fetus. It is leaking into your wife’s bloodstream. The bottom line is your wife will die if she gives birth to this baby.”
“You have to decide Mr. Pryor. Decide between this baby and your wife because you won’t be able to have both. We will see you both back here every two weeks from here on out to monitor the situation but that’s all we can do. Good day, Mr. Pryor. I’ll see you in two weeks. Think about what I said.”
With that, the elevator doors opened and he walked out.
The hustle and bustle of the busy Denver Hospital fell away and the world around us went silent. Nothing was said on the walk to our car. We didn’t have words. The ride home was met with the same icy silence. We sat in that black GMC and moved forward like we were being pulled down the freeway by an invisible thread. One that would end in death. No matter how it went. No matter what turn we took it would end in death. My death or the death of my child. I was numb. The world around me felt smaller than it had that morning.
That morning I had gotten up, woke my son and got him out the door in time for school. I kissed my husband goodbye and got ready for my friend to take me to my Dr.’s. That morning my life was wonderful. I was three months pregnant with a healthy baby growing happily inside me. Now, I was carrying a ticking time bomb and we had to decide what to do about it.
By the time we got back home both of us were emotionally spent. I remember kissing my 6-year-old on the forehead and going upstairs to lay down. I don’t know when James crawled into bed with me. I remember him waking me as he wrapped me in his arms and kissed me tenderly. I must have been crying in my sleep because my face and hair were wet. As I slipped back into sleep warm and comforted by his embrace I let my first words since the hospital slip absently out of my mouth,
“Well, at least it’s not brain damage.”
The next morning was the follow up with Dr. Gruber. She wanted to go over the results from the ultrasound and discuss our options.
“There isn’t an option. I won’t have an abortion.”
“Leah!” James was shocked. We had not talked at all since leaving Denver. I had not asked him how he felt or what he wanted because I knew what I wanted. I wanted our baby to have a chance.
“Think about what you’re saying,” He pleaded.
But I had thought about it. It was all I could think about. We had created a life. It was growing and developing inside me, and we had seen it with our own eyes. We had seen it as it rubbed what would soon be a fully formed hand over its face. As we sat there in that room discussing abortion it was growing ears that would soon hear what we were saying and the last thing I would listen to was talk of abortion.
“I will not kill this baby. If it kills me so be it, I have had a life. I refuse to play God and take this baby’s.”
“Leah, you have to think about yourself right now. It’s you who will die if this baby is born.” Dr. Gruber spoke softly as she held my hand.
The pictures were hanging on the wall. The rip was a long line that ran the length of my amniotic sack. It was impossible to refute. More blood work had been taken that morning and tested. Dr. Gruber warned me the amount of placental fluid in my bloodstream was dangerous. She also assured me that as of now the baby was okay. That was all I needed to know.
“I know what I want.”
“Baby, please. We can always make another baby, but only if you’re here with me. If this baby kills you..” He cut off. The tears rolled uncontrollably down his big brown eyes and I wiped them away as I held his face in my hands.
“Look at me, James God gave us this child to raise, and to love, and to watch grow up. He wouldn’t have given it to us if it weren’t so. If this is God’s will, that I die during childbirth, who are we to change it. Everything happens for a reason.”
Dr. Gruber shook her head in protest. “Well, then might I suggest you prepare your Will and write some letters to your children.”
The month’s drug on. Every other week we took a trip to Denver to have another ultrasound done. Then it was to Dr. Gruber’s office for more blood work and check-ups. Letters were written. A will was made even though I had nothing to leave behind but some furniture and a painting. A huge painting. It was a backdrop to one of my High school plays that I rescued before it was painted over.
But they were in the Will. Left to my son Salem and “Baby” should I die. And should I die, James would adopt Salem? That was all there was. My existence boiled down to some furniture, a High school painting, and my kids.
By the sixth month, we were making weekly trips to Denver. It was well established our baby was safe from harm by this time. The fluid had not bled into the birth sack, its vitals remained strong, and we had gotten the pleasure of watching as it grew from a tiny human tadpole into a tiny human being. A tiny human girl.
“What are we going to name her?” I asked as we admired the ultra-real looking ultrasound of our daughter’s private parts.
“I promised my Grandma on her deathbed if I had a girl I would name her after her,” James said in a matter of fact tone.
“Wasn’t your Grandma’s name Melba?”
“Melba Joyce, but I told her I would name her Joyce. Because Melba is bread.”
“What about Sarah?”
This was not spoken by one of us in the form of a question. No, it was sung out in unison from both of us as a call to arms. Our daughter’s name was Sarah Joyce Pryor. She placed it on our hearts and made it so.
That night before I went to sleep a prayed,
“God, I know this is your child. You gave her to me to mold and create. You named her, and you know her. I accept this. If I have to die please allow me the chance to hold her once before I hand her to you.”
“Do you see that?”
“All that static?”
“That’s not static.”
“What is it then?”
“It’s impossible is what it is.”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “Where is Sarah? What’s all that stuff?”
We were all looking at the 3D screen on the ultrasound machine and all seeing the same thing.
“That is a miracle, Mrs. Pryor. Your body has healed itself. What you are looking at is scar tissue. I have honestly never seen anything like this in all my time. The amount of scar tissue that has grown around your amniotic sack should have taken years to develop. See how thick it is? This is quite impressive.”
“What does that mean?”
“That means we are done here, Mr. Pryor. Your wife is out of the woods and out of any danger that I can see.”
“Mrs. Pyor, congratulations it looks like your stubbornness has paid off. You’re going to live and watch your baby girl grow up.”
“Is this a joke?”
“No. I’m as shocked as you but I’m not making this up. You are healed, Mrs. Pryor.”
A month later Sarah dropped into the birthing canal and the contractions started. It helped to walk through the beginning so I would pace back and forth around the Pawn Shop or I would walk around the neighborhood. For days I kept up the tempo as the contractions intensified. Five days. I was in labor for five days. Sarah was so low I had to squat in order to walk. I held fast. When the contractions began to come every ten minutes we went to the hospital.
At 7:45 pm on October, 10th 2004 I gave birth to Sarah Joyce Pryor. I held her in my arms and I thanked God for his grace, my life, and my baby. I promised him I would hold her tight, and watch her close, and raise her right until I had to hand her to him.
That night another miracle took place. As my husband held his brand new baby girl they watched as the Red Sox who were down 3 games came back to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. It was the first win that would lead to the end of an 86 year losing streak known as the Curse of the Babe. The Sox swept the Cardinals in 4 games thus winning the World Series.
the story of moving orbs
he’s the calm , stands still
a fire that hides within . under that skin, he holds the sun
she’s the moon, the night, the pain
all the unsteady screams that hold his solid ground
dancing, twisting, bending, circles, never-ending circles
hands lift within the arms, she swirls between the trees
faster and faster branches scraping her skin, blood drips ( steady crimson against the blue moon ) yet she keeps on turning . always turning, can’t stop a soul from bleeding
bruises on her arms and legs, faster and faster, can’t stop, can’t see
his face is a blur, his lifted hand a quiet sign of his longing for her, her safe harbor
yet in the night even the starts can be unseen
but she can’t understand . eyes in a daze . still dancing, still turning
a reflection of the silver glow in the eyes made from waves . her only compass in the darkness
( oh, why is it so loud ) feet scrape, bleed . he’s there yet she doesn’t see those lines that carve his essence, a light spreading under his chest
her body pulling towards him, an invisible needle pointing to him
but she can’t stop, ( so loud child, too loud... please wake up )
he is patient, those fingers reaching and just before she is gone... she reaches for him too
light changes and filters
the sun beneath him and the moon in her raging veins
they create shadows to hide in the light of sounds, and now she stands calm, not moving, his heart dancing for them both
enlightenment caught in moments, peace inhaled through lungs that hold no lies
only truth melted within the pulse of the night
Always & Forever
He greets the dawn each morning
Smiles, behind a fresh bouquet
Sweet songs, hummed,
’Side the bed where she long lay
Devotion, spanning many years,
Waxing a century,
Shedding youth and countless
Entwined, their destiny
Early on in married life,
They struggled — poor as dirt
So young, they, looking eye to
Exchanging vows, rehearsed
Surviving war and hardship
True love, enduring time
Even when to sleep she drifts
He’s right there by her side
Caretakers expect him
For he’s never missed a day
And, Sunday’s with the Lord’s
Sharing scriptures as she lay
Some wonder, as they watch him
Seated there, in his lawn chair
His lasting, strong devotion
Beyond weather, fierce or fair
“She’s never died, my bride,
You see, forever, we are married”
Soft spoken, tearful eyes
Fixed on the grave where she lay,
A careful watch he’ll keep
With endless love for his dear bride
Until he finds her in his sleep
Beyond the other side
Inspired by the True Love Story of John and Vivian McFalls
Originally posted as “Love in a Lawn Chair” last year on Prose.
My Mothers Keeper
i smoke a cigarette with my hair down.
ponytails look young and
i am attempting to suggest maturity
as my mother is thrown from a bar
by a man in a uniform
at a strip mall.
i am smoking a cigarette with my hair down
when she falls to the bedside
crying whiskey tears
and lapping up blood
from a nightstand head wound.
i am smoking a cigarette with my hair down
as a cop asks me if im old enough for that
and hands over my mothers ticket of indecency
for making love to Jim Beam
i am smoking a cigarette with my hair down
as she wakes to tiding sink waters and asprin,
tightening a robe around her sickness and
asking if i got a light,
because she knows i always do.
i am smoking a cigarette with my hair down
while she forgets the nights spent
sobbing in her daughters lap
gripping her bruised chin,
spitting and slurring:
"your daddy was right about you girl, you know that?"
now i am smoking a cigarette
with my hair up
in the bathroom of a Motel 6,
a blonde mass of tangle
held together by a rubber band i found
in her purse.
and as she beats on the door
with whiskey fists
i lock tired eyes with the mirror
and cut it off.