Poems

June 11, 2018

Housebound

 

My husband has been into town.
I can smell the out of doors
in his hair, on his cheek
as he bends to embrace me in bed
where I live now rather than sleep.
George at the bookstore says hi.
The library was busy this week.
They are out of that cheese I like at the Co-op,
the one I can still eat.
I try to smell more on his body-
the scent of car fumes and tree
blossoms and warm concrete.
I try to feel the heat of the impatient
bodies pressed in line at the coffee shop,
breathe in the grounds, humid and earthy and sweet.
Tell me about the car ride, I say,
and imagine the luxury
of manufactured breeze.

 

Affliction

 

It’s 5:30 a.m. and already
we have been chasing the pain for hours.
We began with coaxing,
rubbing and kneading, calling it to the surface,
breaking it’s deepest holds,
shifting the oldest aches first,
keeping our voices low, so as
not to wake the sharper, newer
pains, the silver flashes
and precision stabs,
the recent betrayals we haven’t yet had time to grieve.
It’s six hours later.
We offer it poetry, pity, pills, but it
still won’t let me stand.
We dip me into hot water.
We pray raggy prayers.
I cry without any noise.
Nothing is released.
I call this pain terrible names.
You curse its injustice and bully ways.
It holds on harder
and shakes my brain
just to remind me who’s boss.

 

What I Can Still Do


I can tell my eighty year-old father
I love him every chance I get
and hear it come back like
birdsong in a forest of want.
I can make my rescue dog
forget the clutch and gnaw
of hunger and fear for a moment
and run like a pup again.
I can still laugh.
Listen.
Appreciate.
Create.
I can still see right through
to a child’s heart and make her
feel safe and seen.
I can keep a friend’s secret
or show her how to release it.
I can notice,
witness,
speak.
I can feel music run
through my whole body, its echoes
transforming the pain.
I can forgive and,
with this lightness,
face most days
with deep love and
tremulous,
taunting,
tenacious
hope.

 

Psalm


Who will follow me
into the forest?
Who will carry what I can’t,
lie down with me in the moss,
cover me with leaves
when I am finally too weak?
Who will look up into the darkness
when I go quiet
and tell the secret eyes of the animals
watching from the trees
who I’ve been?

 

Underway


This is no bed, it’s a boat--
a great grey ocean liner
with a bellow in it’s throat.
No tossing and turning, she just plows straight ahead,
splitting the platinum night sea,
her windows atwinkle with swirling lights
of pleasure, ease and greed
No thought of fate
or storms
or ice
or disease.

This is no bed, it’s a boat--
a kayak entirely self-propelled.
It can roll and keep on going;
it can’t be taken down.
With it I explore my memory dreams
of the kettle ponds at twilight.
My paddle cuts the purple liquid mirror,
two of everything.
I poke at the lily pads
with their long stems
reaching deep into the shimmering silt
anchored in all that waits.
I will not pull on those stems;
I am not ready to know what’s ahead.
This is no bed, it’s a boat--
a dented aluminum dinghy,
dragged to the lip of the bay.
I am too small for it’s wooden oars and
they slip again and again from their oarlocks.
But my father is waiting for me.
He wears his red and blue-striped seventies shirt and
stands in his Day Sailer with its moldy
life jackets, salty ropes and splintering cabin
big enough just for me.

The light and the water dance furiously.
There is nothing ahead but journey.​


We raise the sapphire spinnaker.
It clangs and flaps, teases and floats
then suddenly snaps, fills and flies.
This is no bed, it’s a boat--
no sickness, no pain,
no end, no doubt,
just pure, blue grace.

 

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