Sunday, July 17, 2016
I made sure to look decent whenever I went over to see him. It was a dire situation. He didn't need me showing up there looking like hell warmed over. Besides, I didn't want him to know how worried I was.
I'd gone over for several days in a row. It was decided that I should take a day off. A friend of mine suggested it. I ran with it.
So the next day I woke up with the knowledge that I was not going to leave the house. I wasn't going over to his house or anyone else's. I had no appointments. I wasn't expected at either of my kids' schools. The farthest I'd be walking would be to the laundry room.
The thing I remember most about that day was getting dressed. The clothes selected themselves.
I put on my Camp Sunshine sweatpants. The elastic was shot, but they still stayed up. The Camp Sunshine logo was almost worn away. It looked like peeling paint.
I topped it off with a long sleeved, ultramarine blue tee shirt. The design looks slightly Buddhist. It's fancy font invites you to Imagine A World Without Cancer.
It turns out the shirt, acquired on account of being a Cancer mom, and unfortunately, also a bereaved mom, was somewhat applicable to my current predicament. Because of fucking cancer.
The pants too, but less directly.
Finally, I rounded off my statement with thick green socks with treads at the bottoms. These are hospital socks. They gave them to me at the UrgentCare center when I broke my ankle. They stretched one over my splinted foot to prepare for my trip home. I put the other one in my bag.
The best thing about the clothes and socks were their comfort. I was clearly engaging in what lifestyle blogs call extreme self care. Not facial masks, cleanses or a spa. My version of it.
The second best thing about the three elements were that they are all on a list of items that I am only allowed to wear around the house. I used to wear these things out in public. Since that time, I have raised my standards considerably.
It was appealing to wear a tee shirt at home that I could never wear to visit him. He could no longer imagine a world without cancer. It would be pointless to try. It would be a terrible idea to wear it in front of him. Besides, as I've indicated earlier, it isn't even flattering.
But I was free to imagine a world without cancer in my own home.
I luxuriated in looking bad but feeling good. Sometimes I caught sight of myself in a mirror. The worse I looked the better I liked it.
I don't remember much else about that day. It was not a watershed day in terms of accomplishment. I have some positive memories about it, even as the details blur.
Right after that, things took a terrible turn. There were emergency trips to see him. There were emergency phone calls to help him.
Laundry was the last thing on my mind. One of the last times I went, but not the very last time, I broke down and wore the Camp Sunshine pants. Most of my other clothes were dirty.
Another friend was there visiting with me. Sweatpants, he said. It was without judgement. It was a statement of fact. For him, this was an unexpected development. Yes, I said.
When I bought the Camp Sunshine pants, I believed that I would never throw them out. But not long after he died, I brought them to fabric recycling. They developed holes. They no longer stayed up. I was okay with it. Especially under the circumstances.
I'm not ready to write much about him yet. I'm not even prepared to write about his clothes. Writing about my own clothes is about the best I can do.
The Best Thing Someone Never Said To Me
What I know, what I don't know
Lying In Wait
Monday, July 11, 2016
Hair to plait, to tuck away.
Skin scrubbed, tawny by noon.
Leave the pale to the gilded cage.
We don't need them here.
Maid to bride to matron be.
Done in an instant.
This kingdom made for the buxom, brown.
Youth be wasted now.
Prize be service, prize be steady.
Day by day, noon to evening, winter to spring.
You will bear child after child.
Some brighter, some stronger or kinder than the rest.
No use being stingy.
You were made for this life.
You stretch the crop, you stretch the slaughter.
You salt, you sweeten, you brine.
Then lay it upon a table, to seem aplenty.
Grace could be said to you alone,
For planting the seed, for manning the pot.
Feet to wear.
Grooves across fields, across floorboards.
You cut a serviceable figure.
In frocks sewn, made thin and soft
Dyed pale by the clothesline, sunburned wind whipped.
Beauty be what beauty does.
Hands made to till, hands that will forage.
Arms to hold, to wash the dust and grit.
Eyes clear and bright to squint away the morn, to see in the dark.
Ears to listen for the cry, the locusts.
The rare sound of company calling, the butter ready in a pan.
Pink lips part, velvet borne.
From bitten rose, from scalloped lily.
This is handiwork, the one finer thing.
Drawn by a different god, sweet cast of artifice.
Set aloft by Jesus or Darwin.
Almost too fair, sinful even.
A bit of sugar.
To lay upon the bent husband who chose you.
And the side by side you made with him.
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What's Good For Us Now
Thursday, July 7, 2016
It was going along.
You were keeping apace.
It was in English.
It was in your province.
In one sharp second.
Words become odd numbers.
A jumble, betwixt, afoul.
You're so far afield
You can't understand what you can't understand.
Drowning doesn't look like drowning.
The lapping calm, whimpering waters.
There's no gasp, no flail, no fanfare.
That is what they say, and you believe them now.
After today, you'd believe anything.
So what that something isn't right?
It's not just a tangle or amiss.
Every last morsel is wrong.
To fashion a query.
Would take another brain.
One that was still tethered.
One born brighter ablaze.
You say this to you.
That which is light as air, that which is familiar old clothes.
And it works - for a while.
Is it the shame of the words?
Or that of not understanding?
Is it something else?
That makes your skin itch and crawl.
That flits around you, buzzy old fly.
Lazy and large, persistent and dumb.
Useless but living.
You should have stopped the bus!
Old with rust the clanging mess of ricket and metal.
Barreling down, reckless and sure.
But it's so late that there's no use checking the time.
You are with just you.
Addled and splintered such as you are
There's nobody left to ask, nobody to decode.
You summon your pieces.
Buttressed, still tall.
You remember a thread of competence so bold.
That technicolor isn't nearly enough of a word.
You want to fix this.
But even this version of you can't make it so.
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The Water Table
Sunday, July 3, 2016
There is calm in knowing.
A hothouse flower is only good if it's rare.
The pluming Audubon bird.
Rendered ordinary if in numbers.
Thank god there aren't more.
Or enough to go around.
There is no twain for the twain to meet.
Because of how you're cut.
Because of how they made me, those two people and their two people.
I shouldn't have tried anyway.
There is no spice of life either.
For that would be saccharine, vintage.
Fibs so pretty they could be embroidered.
By hands that know no better.
Colonial fingers defter and sweeter than mine.
The truth isn't nice to say.
But me, the twig, the sparrow, the three-pronged clover.
Ubiquitous cotton is the cloth I am sewn.
We are most of us and better for it.
We knit, purl one and two, we pack of dogs.
There is good enough in our commonplace.
We stick together, all of us
You exist you few.
As if in a greenhouse, a heaven even.
You fly among us, above us.
Look! We say some of the time.
The crest of red, leaves tuberous and luxe
Other times, and better still.
We are thrown together, such as we are fat, sweaty mess.
Don't be sorry, we like it that way.
Too wrapped up in bargain blankets and velour.
To note the pure red dewy petals.
Or the monarch, flitting this way and that.
Looking for eyes - such a rapt audience we can be!
The wings too silent to hear
Above our fuss, our laughter, our jumble.
Our sameness, our crowd.
Surely there's some beauty here.
I choose this.
Or finer yet, it's chosen for me.
By lineage too elder, too tidy.
To deserve signage or signature.
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Lying In Wait