Seven Years of Visits to the Garden

image is my own

Each new year brings 
Now this garden grief
Nourished by regret

Each year, this day, here—
Standing, kneeling, sitting—I
Spend tears, words, wishes

All meaningless now,
In the barren garden grief
Flowers never bloom

Seven years gone now--
Nothing roots, though it has tried,
In the garden grief inside

The Widow Sings

Image courtesy of CanStockPhoto.com
The widow colors the sky

The ground, the trees,
The winds with cold and heat
Of all that cannot be spoken,
Of spirits tethered to stone.

You may never know she is there.
She may wear the red nose.
She may laugh with you.
She may hold out her hands to help.
All so you are not overwhelmed by her presence.

She hides within her weeds.
Sometimes she hides within the willows.
She may smell of pomegranates
Or roses at midnight,
The scents betray her presence.

But you will not see her arms and hands
Covered in thorns and trickling with blood,
The tears of her body, dripping away,
Speaking in tongues no one can understand,
As she stands alone.

She sees history through a broken prism
Of her words never strong enough to bind
Love to prayers weighted with magic enough
To fly straight to God’s ear, to be heard,
To be answered, to raise flowers of miracles.

In the end, the widow is left,
Singing colors of grief.
When all the praise singers have left her
In the muddy soil leavings of wicked tongues,
Gone on to daily lives, the day to day,
The widow stands,
Singing colors of grief,
Covered in thorns.






Dying Magnolia Tree

Image is my own
The magnolia tree is dead or dying
Said the experts at the nursery
Which planted it.
No green leaves hang upon it,
Only these brittle, brown things
Cling to its limbs still.

The experts give me two things,
Free of charge of course,
To try to resuscitate my magnolia.
The experts tell me everything to do
Over the next eight weeks,
But not to worry, if it all doesn’t work,
The tree will be replaced.  It’s guaranteed.

A guarantee I never thought I’d need.
I did everything right:
Watering and fertilizing,
Watering and fertilizing,
Factoring in all the rain—
Yet here it stands dead or dying
In this place you never knew.

Like with you, in the place you knew,
I did everything I knew to do—
Replace the cooking pots and pans with stainless,
Only organic foods, red wine the only alcohol,
Broke all the cigarettes in two,
Quit my job to care for you—
Until—

Until the fourth time it returned,
Spread to the lungs and liver,
You wanted your cigarettes and alcohol back.
How could I argue?  Say no to that?
Yet even then—
I found you cigarettes with no additives, organic tobacco too.

Until January, our magnolia bloomed as you lay dying,
When at midnight a storm blew through,
Minutes later, you died 
And the magnolia shed its blooms.	

So here now, in this new place,
I planted a magnolia in memory
     Of what was, what was not,
     Of what could have been, should have been,
     Of what would have been
If I possessed the magic to shape shift
Into the one you most wanted.

And now, this tree in this new place
Stands dead or dying.

But I will do as the experts say:
     Spray from top to bottom for disease,
     Shock the roots every other week
Until mid- November, hoping to bring it back,
Bring it back from the edge of death.

If I can’t, the nursery will replace it
With another magnolia tree.

Yet I must think on that.
In this place, in this soil, perhaps
A magnolia is not meant to be.

I may ask them to replace it
With a different tree.
For it could be,
That here and now,
Magnolias are no longer meant for me.


Washed

At the Beach – Image by KL Caley

https://new2writing.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/writephoto-beach/#like-5743

( An older poem written in 2015 while in Provincetown, MA.  Revised for this week’s writephoto challenge.)

At sunrise over water,

        Remembering as if in a dream  

The child and you and me

As we stood by a sea

Half a world away.

Both of you now baptized differently by my tears.

 

And for and from you,

I am left with things neither given

Nor felt in years,

 Linked by all the fears

To form over a decade of a life

Lived like a stranger

In my own shrinking skin.

 

I have stood

Since the dawn

At this ocean’s edge

Waiting, waiting.

And now at noon

The rain begins.

Fierce pelting blows

Washing me clean

Of all I know

Or dare to dream.

 

For living continues

Within my own skin

 

Song of My Sisters

Image courtesy of Storytrender.com

A daily battle with memories,

Offering emptiness,

Even the sparkle of gem like happiness,

Leaving small smiles for the moment—

Before tears begin.

Standing separated

From the ashes and earth

We once kissed and touched so tenderly,

All we embrace now—air,

Some ephemeral being of memory

As voice and smile and laughter fade.

Some of us,

Too many, told too often,

By those once precious, counted family,

Our grief, less than, less meaningful,

Really nothing more than dust,

Containing no rawness of a bloody heart.

Thus, I voice, singing the lament

Of my sisters in widowhood,

As we wait for our souls to soar–

To take flight once again.

When each in her turn is ready,

Able to begin,

Renewed,

Emerging, uncurling, however slowly,

From our blanketing storm clouds of grief,

Wings wet, drying in the sun.

The Sixth New Year

The year ends with heavy rains

As if to wash us all clean

Of the leavings and grime.

 

Now, standing with each year

For each foot of earth

Between us forever—

I gather to me

Broken pieces of colored glass

And think of—

 

Just after midnight,

An early morning

Long before dawn—

The third day of a new year six years ago,

You left in blinding, flooding rains.

 

If only on this third day

Of this new year—

I could open the earth

And roll a stone away,

Bringing you back from under

This six feet of earth.

 

But I have neither the strength

Nor the talent

For miracles great or small

When most days

There is not enough

Left over to become

A mosaic of brokenness.

 

Winter’s Grief

Image courtesy of Flickr

Icy cold wind walks.

Blinding sunshine ironic,

Burning horizons,

 

Promises of warmth

Unfulfilled in morning’s cry

Of grey storm cloud’s tears,

 

And then nothing left

Of fires or dreams curling,

Blanketing round us.

Lessons in Listening

image courtesy of Dreamtime.com

 

https://onewomansquest.org/2020/08/03/vjs-weekly-challenge-107-listen/

My lessons in listening:
To a mother’s final words—
Always remember I loved you and was proud
Tossed off, too rushed to leave work
To get to the hospital, to see her,
Always thinking of more days, time.
Not thinking all I’d see,
Her dead eyes.

To all my dogs– little tells
Of cocked heads, whines, barks,
The ways of wagging tails,
To know what meant what–
Hunger, pain, desire to play,
A need for love or to go outside.
Those I’ve always learned well.

To students, the teens I taught,
A puzzle to figure of pieces and placement
What each meant for each—
The lift of a shoulder, how the eyes met or did not meet mine,
The head upon the desk, the work done or not,
The things said, not said—
To figure needs-
Some basic, some not so,
Requiring other safety nets,
Bruised and broken,
Some I could help repair.
I knew what to listen for,
Almost by instinct,
Since I had not been listened to
When I was one of them.

To my child, a whirlwind of cries,
Hunger, diaper, cold, hot, sick—
Each cry different
A knowing, animal instinct,
Some primal thing beating
Inside knew the way
Of my infant’s need.
When a teen—
A different thing,
A new species of need,
My animal and her animal
Had no common language
Of smells, signals, or cries
In the darkened tunnels
We went through.

To my dying wife, my dying wife—
So hard to listen to, to understand
a language no longer including
My daughter or me.
Never knowing for whom
The last coma spoken words–
I’m sorry, so sorry—
Were spoken.

Now, I learn the final lesson of listening,
A lesson sixty years in the learning, 

To myself, my own heart, my own soul.

The Blanket

Image courtesy of Elftown.com

Written in response to Sammiscribble.Wordpress.com Weekend Writing Prompt #154- Use the word “Fabric” and no more than 131 words

A tiny explosion within the diagnosis:

Stage 3C ovarian cancer,

Blasts a hole in our family fabric.

Threads of surgeries and chemo

Stitch it shut.

A hard-knotted mess left.

We live without holes a few months.

 

New scans, blood tests.

Cancer slices a nice size gash,

fraying at the edges.

More chemo knits shut our fabric, 

No longer perfect with knots, scarred seams,

But whole.

 

Six months,

A rending– bowel resection,

Rips– chemo for a bit,

You stopped, couldn’t do anymore.

The rips, the tears—too many

Too many damaged places to repair.

We learn to live with holes, rips

Fraying tears, worn places—

Until you are no longer there,

Until there is no us—but the child and me,

And no blanket left to cover

What was left of us.

 

The Perfect Legend

image courtesy of windowtoparadise.com

Written in response to Eugi’s Weekly Prompt-

“Legend”- April 20, 2020

The day you left,

You became a legend

In the child’s heart.

True, she was a woman/child

By that time, but you—

Dying too young,

You became a legend,

Crafted to perfection

In her child’s heart.

Her memory forging steel

Fiction tales of your deeds

With iron ore dust of truth.

And I became the villain,

Who had neither the words,

The charms, the incantations

For healing to whisper

Over your body,

Nor had I the spells

To cast so you would live.

Thus, I was guilty of crimes against

Humanity in the book where she kept

A record of all my misdeeds, sins, crimes.

And now, she is grown.

A woman now and she finds

I am just a little less guilty,

Not so much the criminal,

In the present.

But you,

You will always be

The perfect legend.