Friday, April 30, 2010


Objective: Today we will seal our fate, as evidenced by a multiple-choice questionless quiz.

not now
i'm too busy remembering
where i met you
and how

and why i remember
some so clearly
and others
not at all the first time

is sacred

perhaps i got that
wrong it is the
one ephemeral eon
now i see

a pink-cored cosmology
i dare not offend your
nimble and exceptional
mind by

writing anymore
geometry is death math
a one-degree-at-a-time backwards death march
from one hundred eighty to zero in a lifetime
infinite possibility and perpendicular pomposity
end at the forty-fifth parallel while waiting for results
that don't come

once again
we have failed
to ask
the right-angled

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

rough craft

i wonder what poem to put in my pocket
after i secret the life of bees and i
live the secrets of me
under the vespering prelilac trees
causing my eyes to itch and i
want a cigarette
to help me remember from which
i used to be

Sunday, April 18, 2010

a bath and an artichoke

I wish I could express to you how honored I felt to bathe Phid, with the help of the CNA, of course, in the monster jacuzzi tub they have at Pikes Peak Hospice. It is an amazing piece of machinery. To see it in action made me momentarily super grateful to be living in the first world in the twenty-first century.

While I was washing her hair, trying to be gentle, she said, "Oh, Sue, give it a good scrub!" So I dug my fingertips into her scalp, and massaged the heck out of it. Then I rinsed off the shampoo with the shower nozzle and watched the water cascade over her face and neck and shoulders and I could imagine how cleansing that must feel. After a good long bubbly bath, and a washing of the feet, we swaddled her in about a dozen warm blankets, wheeled her back to her room, and applied lotion all over her 83-year-old body. The CNA (also named Sue) and I worked well together, as she is one of those people who recognizes that she is not just doing a job, but performing a sacred duty.

After Phid was all tucked into her fresh linens (the bed seemed to miraculously make itself while we were in the tub room) and about to slumber off, she opened her eyes, looked straight at me, and asked, "What about my arteechock?"


She had mentioned wanting an artichoke twice before, and we just hadn't done it yet! I told her I'd go right away and make her one. I'd be back at 6:30. I bought three artichokes at Safeway, while a friend explained on the phone how to prepare and cook them. I had never cooked an artichoke before.

At 6:15 I called her and she answered with a smile behind her voice: "Artichokes take longer than you thought, don't they?" Yes, they do. I told her I was picking Sarah up at 7:15 and I would be there at 7:30 with her artichoke and her daughter!

Sarah and I "set the table", placed the mayonnaise and melted butter nearby, and let her at it. It was a pleasure to watch her hands, as they nimbly performed the duty they had obviously done so many times in the past. Sarah and I shared another. Then John and the boys showed up with grilled Korean steak from a neighbor's barbecue. I tore some of the tender meat into little pieces for her, and she devoured them ever so slowly. Then the strawberries she had ordered three hours ago finally arrived!

After living on toast, a few bites of tomato soup and a few spoonfuls of pomegranate applesauce for a couple of days, this meal was a veritable feast!

Friday, April 16, 2010

why i love my mother-in-law

Nurse: Are you in any pain? Do you need any medication?
Phid: Only emotional pain... and morphine won't help that.
Nurse: You'd tell me if you were in any physical pain, though, right?
Phid: By George, I'd raise the roof!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Phillis Watkins Spengler is dying. I am honored to sit beside her, doing nothing. If I even try to gently cover her exposed left foot with a warm blanket, she quips, "Oh Sue, stop fussing!" There is nothing left for me to do but sit and wonder.

I wonder about the secrets she is taking with her off into her afterlife.

I wonder what she sees in her mind's eye.

I wonder what it feels like to know that you are dying.

I wonder about the cruel, beautiful irony of crossing over just as the apricot trees blossom here on earth.

I wonder at the miracle of being able to stand on two feet, and then to walk, and then to run.

I wonder how long it will be now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

for bettina


from a common stem come
crocus, hyacinth, tulip
all up
for us

yes us!
we believe
frozen limbs stretch and
awaken within mimic mortuary
to ease the ego and
please Charon

but no!
this colorful refutation
of temporary slumber

"it's time!"
time to go now
time to grow now
time to grow up now
crocus, hyacinth, tulip
spring from a common stem