I’m going on a trip to the Grand Canyon! I leave early tomorrow, so just a few hours from now. I’m excited to see the beauty of a real desert. Checking it off the bucket list!
I’ll be gone all next week and maybe the one after that. Please don’t expect me to an amazing, or consistent, or even existent blogger. I will return, with a scalp full of sand and a mind full of ventifact geometry.
Maybe this is a good time to post this one. Not even sure if it counts as a poem, just food for thought.
Running out of time
How much is left
To do what we want
To do what others want
What kind of a bucket list should we have?
Here is a bucket list written by a six-year-old.
– sit in hot tub
– visit grandma and grandpa
– catch frogs
– see a movie with mom
This is how simple life can be.
She has no agenda
No outside influence
On what a bucket list should say.
Her world is small and rich.
No popular tourist destinations
No huge purchases
All she wants
Is to spend her time doing what she enjoys
With people she loves.
For the unwanted children:
All the sparklike souls who have been wished, prayed, gut punched out of existence
The ones we feared we couldn’t feed
The ones our bodies couldn’t survive
The ones our shame would make the bearing of unbearable
The ones who sensed something wrong through the umbilicus
Swallowing too much adult stress
Growing into a faulty womb
Or missing some vital element
Feeling that they are too sick already, or misshapen
Who, being incapable of tenacity
Threw themselves into the sharp cold air or the filthy toilet water
Their parents ignorant, never knowing nor suspecting
That their future has just been protected
By their potential progeny.
going up the hill to the house, we
saw flowers that she loved, and picked them
black eyed susans, sweet williams, daisies, columbine.
we gripped them in our plump warm hands.
by the time we made it, panting,
having stopped for toads and all the small things,
we presented them to her half-wilted.
“ragweed gives me allergies” she would say, plucking one of them out.
the rest would go in a vase of honor on the kitchen table
a small token of each others’ love.
going down the hill to the creek, we
see flowers that she loved, and pluck them
dandelions, sweet williams, violets, asters.
at the bottom trickles clear water
over mossy gray rocks
and we tip her ashes in.
they are white
like her hair
like her devotion
white like the sugar in her blood
like the angels she adored.
they swirl the water opaque
atop it we scatter the flowers
a painter’s palette of Missouri colors
blackberry, butter yellow, sap green, slate.
the sandy ashes sink.
it takes a full hour for them to wisp away
grain by grain into the gentle landscape.
we’re used to waiting for her.
no matter how we tried to rush,
she always did move slowly,
tasting her fine wine time.
I knew a man,
though not very well.
A nice man
We were all looking sideways at S——
with her regrowing cancer hair
but death came at us
from an unexpected direction.
I wasn’t even aware he was sick
I cut off the tip of my finger.
It’s not often I am afraid
but I was
I pressed my finger into my palm to stem the bleeding.
It felt deformed. Too short, too flat.
I didn’t want to know what it looked like.
A reminder of my mortality
we get the office email.
He has died. We grieve his passing.
The office is quiet
with heavy atmosphere.
Somebody has set
a vase of flowers
outside his office door.
They have been placed there
by honoring hands,
to honor the dead.
We decorate their haunts.
We create ceremonies.
We save mementos.
We tell stories.
I only knew this man by sight.
Another office worker
someone who helped grease the cogs
of our mutual machine.
We might wave or nod.
He had a habit
of muttering to himself
funny, quirky things.
I would pick up snatches of his internal dialog
when I walked by.
How well did he know me?
My finger is stiff with scab.
I worry at it, clean it, unwrap it, rewrap it.
It will have to last me
a few years longer.
Sitting at my desk, trying to focus at work.
Put this in that folder there,
Type that data here,
Fill out all the little boxes…
What was that.
a ghost wind passes through me.
I continue to type
I continue to read
but something inside has been
and everything’s going gray.
what is coming.
my stomach lurches.
please tell me this won’t last.
the world around me has lost all color.
Death has awoken
and rests his bony fingers
on my shoulder.
life is meaningless.
the world has stopped turning.
i’m back in that place again.
this cold, lonely cell
and i can’t remember how to cry.
five minutes pass… not long.
just as inexplicably
Death changes his mind.
wraps himself in his cloak
and curls back into a benign black ball in the corner of my mind.
as he retires, ambient warmth returns.
The world sets back into motion.
Color resurges into my reality.
I’m in my office again
Still typing away
That for five minutes
I was briefly pushed
Out of their world.
It didn’t last.
It didn’t last.