Monday, 13 February 2012

an offering - songs of my mother leaving - continued

we were heading to the shower one day when strength left my mother's legs and we collapsed together onto the couch - and there we stayed - me trapped underneath my mother's torso - for a period of about five minutes
I wasn't really sure if she was alive, or dead, or dying - but it felt like I needed to wait it out and she would come back to me
suddenly she did - as though the electricity was running again through her body and mind

my writing is sort of like that
I am trapped under it and then suddenly it is time to listen, and move, and see words forming on the page.

so I offer more poems while the electricity is running


my mother
was getting hard
the softness of her body disappearing
bone so hard, obviously pronounced

the beauty of bones
long elegant leg bones, arm bones
rib and cheek bones
all pronounced
no longer blurred by flesh
drawn back tight over all those bones
cheeks hollowed out "my lost Mayan Incan mother" I thought 
the gaunt beauty of bones

she is connecting
with everyone
who has come before
and all unborn creatures
and she is leaving me here
she is leaving me here
she is leaving


she is holding towels
onto open palms 
and arms

the request
"when Bernice and dad come
I have to be ready
will you help me pack?"

a sister and a father
coming from the other side

"close" she was saying
"but we have time to prepare"


walking pathways thru the woods next to
the coast of the bay
step by step we

my mother's painful pace
she stops
examining plants, stones
"are we going to slowly?"

"no" this is my chance 
to look 
at this part of the world
in detail
of my mother's pain
and her constant 
of the same

dreaming again

dreaming again
they are still alive   but I am certain we
buried them both
funerals, I'm sure
how long will I have to look after them?
so much care
these people are needing

dreaming again
my mother and I are tending
the vegetables growing
up through the slats in the floor from
the ground underneath
we are in the house that is not a house
trees and sky all around
but walls and a roof
how so? 
I don't understand

he shouldn't have left me 

"he shouldn't have left me"

"he didn't want to leave 
he loved you
it's not his fault that he died"

"I know"

she is looking at her husband's photo on the wall


a tiny scrap of newsprint she is holding
retrieved from the jewelry box
"you might find this helpful" she says 
"when?" I asked
"when I am dead" she says
it was the poem "do not stand by my grave and weep"

months later
she says
"I'm nothing"
"no" I say and retrieve the poem
from the box and read:
"Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die."
"see? you are everything"

"I know" she says
"but it's so hard to remember"

soon after 
we are all crying while
my sister in law reads
the poem at the funeral

in the moment

"see the house?"
she is pointing to the stones in the walkway
we are having lunch in the sunshine
she gets up, starts to show me
"i'll loose it"
she sits down and directs my steps
a little this way
a little that way
focusing on the image
until my foot is there
where she sees the image of a house

the world crystallizes 
I am there 
my mother is there
in the sunshine
grey stones under my feet
the soil under the stones
grass all around
and sun
down from the sky

all that is
all that was
all that ever would be

Sunday, 5 February 2012

an offering - songs of my mother - intro

These songs are of my mother - an incredibly warm, smart, generous, witty woman who had lived most of her life while transcending pain caused by a variety of chronic physical conditions.
She loved life.
She left when it got too hard to stay.
Her last two years were spent with Alzheimer's added into the mix
Her last year we spent together; intense but good training.

She and my father and brother (who are also gone to the other side) show up at various times in the air around me, in the tasks I'm performing, in the warm feeling I get when thinking of how they would be so pleased for me at times, and how they would empathize at others.

They all died relatively young, but not before making me miss them, and at the same time giving me the love that sustains me in their absence.

I would like to hope that these writings are of some help to someone - they are a work in progress - and indeed they are for my own medicine. They are offered in love and respect for our human journey here.

They will be posted in semi random order and may organize themselves into another form entirely.

It's been a while (Oct. 99)  - I think I can share now.

against the tide

swimming against the tide
a young woman
my mother
a union rep at the cotton mill
and then a young wife
reading of natural childbirth
and of breastfeeding
from a borrowed book
and so we her children
swam to the surface
to nestle and suck at her breast

near death in her undershirt and  depends
climbing onto the long bureau
because she "simply had to lie down"
she carried some of that vitality
and simple grace of youth
complete with long legs, willowy frame
that I had only seen in photos
young, in a swimsuit on the beach
my god, she was lovely

an act of will

some part of me felt
that it was an act of will
her leaving
she had been
waving goodbye
disappearing in slivers
years before the Alzheimer's
"the disappearing woman"
I kept thinking

fear and pain
overtook her - a floater - she started to sink
exercise, relaxation therapy, self hypnosis,
drugs; they all slowed things down
but nothing could save her
not even me

before that
the two of us together
couldn't save her husband
my dad


we walked
those trails
through the four seasons
blues and greens of summer
giving way to rust of fall
grey of winter
and back again

inside this
for two months
my father lay dying
fading under morphine

and then for almost a year
beyond my father's passing
my mother's husband gone
we walked
when chance arose
while my mother's consciousness shifted to the other side

another trail
gathering beach flowers to dry
multitudes of bright greens and purples
growing between smooth round grey stones
handfuls of flowers
from hands that had
and cleaned
and gardened
and cooked and sewn
crocheted and mended
knit and untangled
smoothed and soothed
they gathered now these gifts for me
these beach flowers
to dry

"thank you" I said as they fell into the bag
"you're making me feel useful…." she said

language of song

the breath and memory of song
were starting to go
language of song
silent after all these years
no other time
when she didn't sing

only air now

sharing a pillow just to hear
her breath
only air now

no more songs

words so rare

the air had been full of songs
upon our rising
we knew the world
was still turning
happy, sad, scared  song  song  song
the thread of our youth

radio blaring
washer singing
bread rising
floors shining
soup sizzling
cold nights
summer heat
songs just filled our ears

the last song

"Show me the way to go home
I'm tired and I want to go to bed
had a little drink about an hour ago
and it went right to my head"

the verse came so easily complete with
theatrical hiccups
shared bed
hysterical laughter
the last song
she sang to me

"you have to laugh when you can" she said

water for tears

where does the water for tears
come from?
torn from cells and forced out
through the eye
no wonder crying hurts so much

when will this end
when will this end
not yet

be ok for just another moment
laugh and sing to me
pick some flowers
breath in the morning
infect me with your love of living
hold me close
take me with you
to the land of no pain
the land of I am your daughter
and you are my mom

this place hurts too much
I will split in half
I will explode
the pain of grief will take me under
doubled over in the kitchen, tears
salty tears, will I ever stand straight again?
to face that vision
of bones, to release my hold
on this fragment
what remains of you

so soft the whisper

so soft the whisper
a breath
a sigh
patterns in the sand
a warm breath
blue sky
blue mountains of sea
silver sigh
whispers in wind
drifting breath
mountains of sky
wistful breath
mountains of sighs
silver clouds
come home,
come home
so soft the whisper