The Backside

 

 

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The Backside

A hundred stories blew right by
Unseen by the naked eye, a hundred and one
If you count the one so wind-soaked, water-logged and beat down
There is nothing left to tell
Shreds of truth washed out to sea
Particles of memory swept up in the counter-current backside of the beast

A hundred years from now

Someone will dredge it up, tell it to a crowd of hungry men, women and children
Hovered on the edge of their seats to know about the day the wind raged
Again
History, a fan of repeating herself

At the hair salon
She said the waiting was the hardest part of all
Tell me your story
I’m beginning to try to listen again

Forgetting doesn’t help remembering
Warnings came from somewhere down the coast, farther south
Watch out for the backside,
The tail end
Every cliche, metaphor
You’ve heard them all
Listen up, for once, to talk of eyes and calm

While we wept for Haiti
I wept over Vascular Dementia, ALS and Cholera, hunger and disease
And Haiti some more
The Shirley May, The Mary Margaret and God’s Grace
They made it through, tethered to a wide and weary oak
Simple solutions mock me

Anticipating, we know too much of what we do not know
Wringing our hands over unknown outcomes
And then the shaming began
For the stayers and the ride-it-outers
Who know the nuances of wind and tide
But are certain of not one thing

The quiet dark of the blind preparation
Is a quiet we never knew

Run a bunch of models
Focus on the European One
Fine lines  wear the well-honed edge of a butcher’s knife
Lord have mercy plays on rewind and repeat
In sharp contrast
The Weather Channel, bless its heart
I thought I’d die if I heard one more warning of how bleak my future looked

When the wind blows
Echoes from my childhood
We are slowly prepared by  nursery rhymes
For what’s ahead

When the wind blew
At hurricane force
I sat on my backside

Resting up
No one named the raging storm in my mother’s brain
After one of the gospel writers

There is still a storm that’s raging
Though not at sea
For me
Waiting is the hardest part

 

 

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What Will You Always Remember

What Will You Always Remember

There are no mahogany framed sepia photographs
Laced in chipped gold gilt, hanging by a thread of rust
Lining a narrow hallway by the newel post worn down
By palm and fist

No black and white, grey and tan or faded Kodak prints
With the look of Nashville filters on Instagram
We are not shown together much

Paired, twinning, con-joined or wrapped arm in arm
Serpentine limbs like Cherry Willow tree’s
Threaded through each other
In an overtly visible way

Not after those early years when
Nascent you
Held
Nascent me

But I will always remember
Tracing your blue-green bulging veins, pumping  crimson blood to the beat of  Onward Christian Soldier
(Or was it some other one penned by Wesley for the choir)
Running like rivulets down your pale underarm
The color of the underbelly of a flounder
Yours was smooth as the red velvet church pew in that
Methodist church
Where I did the tracing
You may have smelled of Jergens
And I may have smelled of intrigue

I closed my pre-mascara-heavy eyes
While your fingers played the piano up my arm
When your dangling digits like participles
Reached the bend
I was to tell you

Whisper that you were in the valley of the arm
While the preacher preached
And I wriggled in my seat

You may not recall at all
Perhaps you only remember the smell of Methodism
And the lingering scent of my wanting to know you more

 

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Omega

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Omega

Eight lost, some stillborn
Others born, still lost
Sons and daughters of Willow
One remains or so we believe
Alpha and the in-between-ones
Are all gone
Our deposit has not been sent
Hope is a currency all its very own

We are uncovering poetry
It’s what remains now
Well into her eighties
Grief grinds its way through
Those of us remaining
She deposited words
Like shiny gold coins
Rare
Into the safest of places
Poetry, her currency

Page after aging, age-less page
Reveal what Agnes’ life did not
To me

Distance and years
Wedges like a bank vault wall
Kept me at bay

She never knew that mother penned
“For Elizabeth our aspiring poet”
On the inside of Oliver’s “Evidence”

Surprise would have attended us both
That pens are passed into spheres of
The unknown

And just after we grieved for a good long while
The gone-ness grew
The no-going-back-ness
The place where the mind comes back from a long hiatus into dementia
Just to hear “I loved you”
And now
Your poetry

Omega was the last
Black English Cocker puppy
Born alive
In Oklahoma

A sign that one of nine
Remains
For us
A sign of hope
At eight weeks
Omega, should she live
(Meg for short)
Comes to live with us
Eight others rest in peace

Epiphanies born from death
Poetic embalming of her secrets
Now shared
Beauty birthed on every page
Life revealed in death

I cannot crown my favorite line of hers
(It may take a lifetime of catching up to dog-ear my favorite page)
Alpha and omega
And poetry in the in-between’s
She rests in peace
I wrestle with regret and grief

She wrestled with life
And turned it into poetry

 

 

 

Dear Me, Dear You

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Dear Me, Dear You

I heard your news
Third hand
Softened some of the sting of the blow
I would weep
But I am saving my tears
Rationing them
As if there are not enough for the coming monsoon of grief

Age is cruel
Until it is not
We would be wise to remember the softening
Age has given us
Glory-filled awe
If lines could be drawn in the sand
Of where it can go
But no further
We’d let the disease you have
Have some things to destroy

In sort of a death-defying feat of high stakes negotiating
We’d lay down some of our Isaacs
But hold fast to some of our others
Cloning the sacrificial lamb
For more currency
For the wheeling and dealing with death’s cruel march

Let’s say this
In harmony

How bold in its irony
How cruel in its choice

To take your ability to write your name
I weep with you
Willing to let my tears go
The ones I am hoarding
Let them fall on the fire and put out the flame
Memories burning to ash

I will cherish the places your wrote your name
The thing you cannot write
Any more
In the letters
What nonsense we all thought it
When I, the pack rat, the prophet, the foreteller
Somehow knew
We should save the letters you wrote

Those places where you signed your name

And I will try to write
The words that you cannot

Dear me
Dear you