In her cull

Before

Who knew how to die?

That it wouldn’t be instantaneous

As children imagine

A sudden pain, then unconsciousness

Who knew?

Death could go on years

Building and slowing like cold sea water

Burning firework left to fizzle alone in inky sky

That it would wind and unwind, a mad clock void of correct motion

Who knew?

It could take the very young, wrap them in wool, to cast down wet hill

The jarring and bumping eventual colission held at bay

Till forgotten

That it could take you

Suspend you from me and all familiar things

Where the recognition in your once clear and beautiful eyes

Became muddied and clouded with quiet violence

Your touch so soft, stolen and replaced with flinty brush off

Who knew

The courage of fighters

Seathing against their sentence and eventual

Chop chop of parts, scars and marred

Skin once free of blade

A scratch board of operation knives

She reached me

As I sat in my safe world

Pulled me through

I smelt anticeptic

Read her clever whirring mind

Far too smart for this dull world

How can such people die?

She laughs and says

At least I’ll go young and whilst I have my looks

So long as you don’t show the undertaker my scars

They remind me of barbed wire and grey hair and the lines you cut in snow

When skiing downhill

Her lips are red, she says

I used to ride horses and can speak five languages

I say

I wish you would stay

I could read you eternally

It’s the macabre and giggling nervousness you feel

Around dying

It brings out the worst or the best of us

I wanted to bolt

Race down the road

But I remain and listen

To the gurgle of her catheter

And saw the bruised clouds grow

As rain came like tears behind pitched fingers

Her humor never left

She knew more than all of us

What a terrible, terrible waste

She said; I can make an authentic French 75

I wanted to swap places, I am not so rarefied

But I am a coward

Before the machinations of surgeons

What devour they do, to our poor skin

Does it really prevent anything?

She asked, laughing at the cat

Who is also old and infirm before his time

Still batting the window when birds come to peck

At crumbs of comfort because it’s those little things

She says, keep you going

Like my favorite soup, a funny film, the sun coming over horizon

Reminding me I can still

Breathe

I learn to appreciate life

From her dying

The morsel of me

Though of language I only know two and

Cannot spell in either

It seems

Life is savage in her cull

The bright and wonderful snatched

Who among us had an idea of

How to die?

Then she laughs

Her teeth still white, her skin waxy and hot

And says, oh dear you!

Who among us

Knew truly

How

To live?

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Tapestry


When did we cease being

Wide eyed and curious

Of this velvety world

Not ever

Shouts blue rinsed grandmother

And sings her baudy war songs

To the chip chop chop of her brothers clumsy accompaniment

On stairwell piano with missing ivory

It was said

Parlor tricks began with family visits

Light a cone of newspaper on your head

A second from setting fire to your hair

There were jugglers in the house

Catching Xmas clementines by the handful

And ladies whose pure voices lifted up sagging furniture

Such the gratitude of survival

Friends of shared blood and homemade eye patches

When did we cease lighting candles to cast a glow

Making magic of things otherwise ignored

Not ever

Today, everyone is dressed in threadbare finery

Auditioning for heaven, the old ones say

And all I thought of was the last licorice stick

Staining the inside of my mouth like forbidden wish

We remain alive by sheer will, it is the rush of nature

To keep us tethered by thinnest string, weaving our own

Tapestry

Selfhood

Four and twenty years

The flower in the room

Lain closed

Was no more than dim statue

Vase without rose

Color without sight

Shape losing distinction

And those who sought its open

Knew not the riddle

And so the light that came

Was always mute

Hesitant on ringing cusp

So close to elucidate, yet

What we know .. can simply be words

Spoken without access

As skater will skim surface

Unbeknownst of depth

So our hearts may idle dormant

Through many turning seasons

Held in abayance as treasure is horded

Lost over time to silentio

**

Do not put off finding your source

Though deep it runs beneath the world

Gathering sediment, silt and clay

What shape will we form, when lifted out?

Held to inspection, as writhing newborn

The metal in our veins fastening

This soul of salt 

This fusion of minerals 

Cast against unwanted chessboard

Where all demand a role

How do we learn to wade?

The fridgid waters of other’s demands

Yolking us back to previous destination

When all we strive for is the warrior pose

Striking our way forward in certitude

It is hard to remain resolute

In the eye of other’s storms

To hold on when you are being tossed

Over the edge of plundering vessel

**

Yet

Remember

You were born in motion

Swimming before breath

Breath before word

And they baptized you, based on their own heaviness

And they spooled you out, cast wide into frothy sea

Attempting to repair themselves in their seizure, of your liberty

**

It is not, returning to them, you go

But the highlands

Where only those able to breathe thin air

Can survive 

Among the castaways and forgotten

You found yourself

Knew the piston of your core

For its oiled heart

Ticking over, even as you held your breath

These many years of half won life

**

Watch the glimmering sky dispose day and usher gloves of dark

As mime artist speaks in gestured dance

See the low swoop of heavy headed swallows

Break apart and like gloaming magnet, reassert

Their whole in sight of land, gleaming in shortening pathway

Just beyond marbled horizon, saturated in indigo pulse

Where all you always were, stands waiting

To be claimed, and shone, and worn

In the splendor of selfhood, eager to push forward and meet approaching dawn

Radiance

Do not become bitter

When friend you thought is none

When calamity strikes her skin drum

And those you relied upon do not come

The world

Is a magical place of nonsense

What you know is often undone

By the whim of mercury and emotion

Little stays as you may have assumed

But in the hour of your isolation

Witness miracles

From the trees they unfurl

Familiar in compassion

A true heart rarely demonstrative

A kindness never published

Those with mercy on their tongue

Seek no recompense

Silently they stand at your side

Holding you when others did not show

Too busy in flamboyance

For the meak shall inherit trust

It is they who need make no false promise

Sincerity is not shouted from rooftop

Actions are louder than fancy words

Seek not the grandiose, who say they love

Take instead the slowness of certainty

You know when you fall 

By the tenderness of unexpected visitor

By gentle compassion and

The companion who you never knew you could

Rely upon 

Such is the mystery of things born in hard times

And the redemption of hope

Blooming

Blocking out disappointment with her

Soft and steady radiance

This poem is for those who selflessly were there in a supportive letter or word during the hardest part of my life. Please know it was you who got me through and my gratitude cannot be expressed enough but to say your kindness was everything to me. Thank you so very much. I have learned that true goodness comes often from the least expected corners just as those who pretend to care are often just hot air.