Thursday, October 21, 2010
Poem to a Lost One
You held my hand and squeezed,
again and again,
with all the mighty power left to you;
Your strength that so made me a shining star
in your remote universe,
calling you to some other place,
or another small kingdom to rule.
How will I know until I get there myself?
“I love you,” we traded back and forth,
cheeks on facing pillows,
your eyes closed,
mine capturing whatever remained of you.
“I’ve so many things I never had a chance to talk to you about,” I said,
though without your hearing aids it’s unlikely that you heard.
The others were foraging in your now abandoned kitchen,
or shooing children down the hall,
or chattering in a distant room.
Little did I know I had you to myself for the last time in those passing moments,
and shorter still than I could dream.
I could not wake the next morning. The laziness
that invaded my bones
could have been my empathy with your exhaustion.
Exhausted with this world you were.
After the phone call, knowing you were gone,
no more goodbyes,
I felt a loneliness that only death can impart.
Like a mechanical foot, I walked through the remainder of the day,
and when I was the last one left in your empty house,
I felt a shattering in my middle,
peering at what was now disarray
of once the absolute modicum of order.
I will reach for the phone to say:
“We cut Mila’s hair.”
“The Mariners won.”
“My blood pressure is too high.”
“Where are you?”
“I got a photo of you from Marian.”
“I had a good day.”
But your number is disconnected
And now your mail comes to me.
I imagine you at your sink,
your red apron (I have it now),
the timer clicking (tick, tick) on the stove,
And in the living room (why do they call it that?)
the cuckoo measuring the hours.
The scent of baking sugar fills the air as
you turn to tell me I am late
and walk my way to give me a hug,
your fingers splayed to keep bits of flour from my back,
the image in my imagination fails me.
Because you are not there, I can no longer
go to you. And you can no longer
leave me messages that berate me for not answering my phone.
I am unable to identify the strangers in the photos
and your sister
was not acquainted with many of your friends.
So they will remain strangers
into infinity. I brood over faces and names
of people I will never know,
just as I never completely knew you.
Remember that day in the hospital
when we spoke of how we never really get to fully know
even those to whom we are closest?
We had so little time,