My siblings text each other,
A net to catch and diffuse the grief.
Three years ago? Is that all?
Is that a long time, or a short time?
I can’t tell.
When I first started this blog, all of my poems were about you.
Now I have moved on to lesser things.
But once in a while
The wound reopens, raw to the air.
I swore to learn to cry.
I’ve gotten better.
But this winter and the holidays
They make me think of you
a dull inner ache
and I keep smiling.
The difference is
I write, too.
You wouldn’t want us to hurt.
You wouldn’t want any pain for us.
You did all you could to spare us.
We were happy.
We are happy.
But life isn’t just smiles, is it?
Sometimes life is scraped fingers
Bruised knees, twisted ankles
High fevers and learning to stand up for yourself.
You knew this too.
This time of year I wear your long jacket.
It keeps my legs warm.
It’s very dignified.
I still see you wearing it
Helping you over the curb with your walker
to the Chinese restaurant
for Orange Chicken. Always Orange Chicken.
Orange Chicken for life.
The waitress took it kindly
When you told her you loved her
And gave her a hug.
She could tell something was wrong.
I smiled at her discomfiture
And apologized with my eyes
But deep down
I wanted to be you right then.
This chocolate shake is for you.
Happy birthday mom.
something took a bite of me
and made off with it
i can’t remember what is missing
but i dream
the edges of its absence
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 do this for you.
I am relieving you
Of the burden
I love you too much
To destroy you repeatedly.
Instead, this way, you are only destroyed once more.
Please forgive me.
I know you will.
You’ve forgiven me for worse.
You forgive me
I don’t deserve your forgiveness.
I don’t deserve anything.
I don’t deserve your presents or love or encouragement.
I don’t deserve your tears, your money, your heartache.
I don’t deserve your long-suffering, painful red eyes.
I don’t deserve the way
You just keep bending.
I deserve your hatred.
I deserve blows.
I deserve prison.
Will never give those things to me
I will never change.
I have tried and I have tried.
I’m giving up on me.
Something you would never do.
Then again, I was never
What do you feel
With you delicate fingers?
What do you toes?
What tongue what eyes what ears you?
Your gossamer curls
Your crooked teeth
Who is like you?
I hold you close
I want to protect you.
I cannot protect you.
You are being eaten from within.
Your white face
Your trembling hands
Your eyes wet
Mingle with mine
We sit knee to knee
And grieve our imminent parting.
Though I hold your hand now.
The shadow of your hand
Memory pressed into my flesh
Will linger long after.
Will you remember me?
I share your fear.
Do you feel this tenderness?