Monday, July 7, 2014

In the Wake of the Walker (poem)

This is a first draft of a poem that got pulled apart and put into many poems, some published, some not. I just ran across this, and it was a surprise to me to find it in this form. NOT that it's good, but that it's Caregiving was a source of much poetry.


My mother, broken hip repaired, returns
home on a walker: pushes at it, wheels slosh
through rising tides of age and death.
I travel in her wake, clutch her gown,

my passion’s been spent—
pink poker chips for politics
bright red for art
yellow for hordes of rippled bodies
closing in
to start me, like an engine,
breathing hard, space time and universe
rolled onto tongues against my skin,
a fevered slick of yesterdreams.
They left carrying their shoes
while I idled on sheets soon washed and dried,
and washed once more
to lose the scent of tourist.
Diesel oil drying in my hair.

My mother’s needs: food and meds,
clean sheets and towels against the wetness,
small lights against the darkness and a hand held tight,
both reluctant to remember dry land.
Submerged in a hot tub, I imagine my brain
as cooked cabbage, and I am body with leafy
vegetable atop, gone mute--eyes shut
yet with a willingness to try to grow,
to cultivate within some tiny seed
that might disperse itself into the untilled
soil of some as yet unseen, fertile,
unknown garden without weeds,
out there.

In the wake of the walker, I clutch my mother’s gown
at the waist, keeping her upright, feeling like she's a child in tow.
She might fall on her shuffle--or crumble in a vertiginous swoon.
Thou shalt honor thy source. Her force ekes down the drain
of the bathtub when I bathe her skinny yellow feet—a flood, a loss
of anima, the very same poured into me at birth.

I want to be outside, pick tomatoes, eat red berries---only three
that I can see from this window—before the Southern Blight.
When I first shook our lemon tree, I did not know the heavy limbs
were spiked with thorns. Nothing sweet there but my own blood.

Waves will drown her, sweep her tiny bones asea—her voice—a wail;
and I shall flounder: no siren’s call. I am in the wake, holding my breath.
Calypso sits in the Mimosa tree outside, pinching the prickly blooms.
They fall before their time, still pink with bristling hope.

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