So good to be writing again. Life comes to us in stages, as do poems.
What I Hear
Bedside with you in Hospice,
I reach into my bag
retrieve stale pretzels, dog-eared notes,
an essay about you, the gardener.
Three pages long,
I am almost through.
You are blinking, groaning.
How much of my writing
did you ever read?
Children now bedside too,
You lift up your hand.
Do you want me to stop?
You mumble. I wrinkle
my forehead, unable to discern.
Children relay, He says,
I love you.
A blanket I love you
encompassing me now,
warmth for my journey.
You always wanted to be
the subject of my words.
And when words
do not turn into writing,
your whispered plea –
to go on,
Driving through West Virginia,
the Appalachian Trail miles from sight.
I am blinded by blue skies,
do not see mountains or rest stops.
I only see you,
or your side,
while I sat between
you and Mom, making trips
through ranges and rain.
Howard Johnson’s and Days Inn
now in my rear view mirror,
as are you.
I miss the glint of sun
shining off your watch as the dawn
struck and woke us all,
the bitter scent of aftershave,
your Cuban-dark arms,
Mom frantic over the wrong turn,
reading the Triptik,
Necco wafers had long gone stale,
though you kept them
like a treasure trove.
Some slept, I followed the map,
needed a path,
the one you were driving.
Robert Frost forgive me, for the road less traveled
is not the one I want to be on.
But I am. Long stretches,
interspersed by tunnels, and suffocating silence.
I’m no expert map reader
but isn’t it better to be lost?
Isn’t that why you drove, to separate
from the bickering, the snoring, and chewing,
the curlers, the snacks, the books?
Isn’t better to know who you are, than where?
The girl in me sits by your side.
The road is bumpy.
You curse county commissioners
up and down Tower Boulevard.
We stop in order – shoe store, post office,
Grandpa’s on Chris Avenue, hoping for cannolis.
we arrive at Willow Hardware.
You park the Surburban –
a car rising higher than feet can touch.
I tumble out
and swing the doors to Willow wide open.
You follow me.
I gravitate towards a buzzing,
the sweet scent of sawdust my nectar.
Someone is building something.
You turn towards the garden supplies, stepping
over green rubber hose.
You are seeking the shelf full
of twine, sentries wrapped in cardboard rolls.
You were raising something too.
The tomatoes, their stalks needed
staking and prodding,
a firm grip to grow
juicy bulbous fruit.
On our errands, we were building something –
What was it – a treasure chest for your wisdom,
a box to capture the girl in me,
or being of like hearts,
an understanding between us two?