what would you do, heart
without a cell phone ringing
or me texting and snapping and retrieving
one hundred and fifty times a day?
what would you say, heart
without me having to answer
every forty emails, deleting forty more
and bothering so much with Siri?
what would happen to you, heart -
in all your soft glory -
if you could just beat and love
and beat some more?
intuiting the vastness of stars
before night even falls.
catching his breath
before she walks into the room.
embracing my child before he walks
i remember when.
there was a feeling.
so much to feel really.
for your birthday we poured martinis -
threw fresh dough on a pizza stone
and marveled at the magic of heat and cheese.
just a few of us, this several pieces
of one family
you had made for yourself.
we all miss you.
in the evenings, when even the bones are tired
and every bit of energy that could be conjured
has been -
there is still a young rapper in his room -
discovering the magic of words -
and another boy, taking a vacation
from the wonders of the cosmos
to play a video game with a friend.
the noises are absolute.
my dog curls up like a pinto bean -
his big ears on alert.
something inside me hungers.
so much of a day spent doing
until the heart has had her chance to rumble.
the fingers their chance to skip
across the black pavers -
at last awake.
your dying is a lazy mountain waterfall
without an end.
i am looking under rocks -
in between the manzanita and madrone -
under moss and lichen -
hands deep in a hollowed oak
trying to find the empty.
but there is still too much.
an overwhelming overflowing of your aliveness -
a certain surely still at home
i am here
you left me a ruby rimmed with diamonds -
a crimson and aqua rug -
some china and a desk.
ee cummins,david sedaris,the best loved poems of jacki o.
a life of scripture, "everything that is yes"
we pretended to bury you yesterday.
but you were there at lunch
running the show.
and now i am thinking about what is lovely
and there you are again
we have always liked to organize things
you file beautiful
next to exquisite and lush and tradition -
your systems become tasteful displays of abundance -
while i like to purge
and name the spaciousness something pretty.
you bring the color
while i remove the things that filter it.
you have big soft hands and a warm heart
and room to hold every little thing that is sacred
my hands are dry from all the scrubbing
and i try my best
not to hold on
still, i will leave your home every time
with my arms full
of certain special gifts
i could not have lived without.
a poem clipped from an old magazine -
an ancient alligator suitcase -
the rusted locks and tired lining
proof that you can stop time.
and i would.
i wonder how many times i have taken
the fake poinsettias down -
tripping over my own feet
and the heavy curtains that line the closet -
the ladder leaning against the wall
like an old friend
i have used twice a year
the string of christmas lights in a round hat box
that i will not test this year
but i do not cry.
only some of them would have lighted.
and i would have wrestled them around the tree
like i do every year,
finding out a little too late
that one string needs to be replaced,
you would point out the holes
where the light is not enough.
where it is dark.
we will fill the tree with color again -
every year with your box of color -
we will fill the tree to overflowing -
all the sparkling glass balls and crystal boxes,
the shiny bundles of red berries
and intricate ornamentation -
the precious hold-it-in-your-hand beauty -
the loveliness of things
made meaningful by your keeping.
this time you say go ahead and give the poinsettias away
and we act like it is no big deal.
someday when we have grown weary of the attic
i will ask you for the ladder.
this is how she taught me
i will say
to make beauty worth giving away
and memories worth keeping.
i will have tiny clippings
of poems and articles cut -
things you saved
and finally delivered
as if it were no trouble at all
that you cared enough
to save it.
this year we'll get the tree early
and maybe spill red wine on the sofa
or not use coasters.
we will have known better
and that will be what counts.
that because of you
we will have known better.
i jumped off the bridge last night
in my heart
and now some twelve hours later
i still haven't hit the bottom -
the immeasurable depth of being,
to slam up against
with something so simple
so i wait.
think about the crawling out -
the accent -
the way back up
to where things are indeed
even inside the darkness.
even with it.
the frailty of being human -
i know the clouds are grey for a reason -
that there will be more rain
but also i know, from it
will come new growth
and this is where i rest
against the walls of a weary heart -
pull myself back out
and up -
where i can dare again
i am sorry for dying -
the way the orchid petal limps and clings -
refusing to drop.
i found all the merchandise a heartbreak -
the way i said i love you with a boxful
and ribbon -
as if even a portion of my reverence
could be contained.
when time steals you away from me -
because you are growing
and learning to love things outside of Us -
i wonder at having had once
my own dreams -
before i cared more about an elusive collective
and following your youth
into the night.
i am thinking about dads today
and how my own died way to young -
and how so much of who i have become
was because of this man -
that, in some ways, i barely knew.
but i knew him.
i know your dad died early too, and yours.
and how hard it is for all of us
to look at our boys, our sons, our nephews
and think -
they will never get to meet him, or -
god, my dad would love you.
i am proud.
to have had a dad. to have,
through marriage and love
helped make one. to understand
the delicate fabric
that holds our men together -
that shapes our boys.
I feel dangerously too close sometimes -
to the essence of things -
how i catch a glimpse of my child
walking passed in a man's body.
he carry's my father's death with him, you know
and lends him another life.
my pen is broken
from too much thinking.
where without the soothing curse of love -
i might be bored.
someday my friends will find me
asleep in an attic at noon.
curled up in a pile of cards
they sent through the years.
there is a chocolate cake pillow
and a little a little cup of tea.
the fairies are coming
in their holiday sparkles
with their christmas jingles
and their hanukah lights -
and you can almost feel the cheer
thickening the air.
it's nice to be alive
when there is extra hope afloat.
and to watch people cozying up
and sitting closer -
to beat the cold.
mostly, though, i like the sound of you snoring -
like a sedated lion
harmless and safe beside me.
sometimes i think about what it was like
when i was three.
you were four and a half
my brother -
showing me the ropes.
when you taught me how to ride a bike
you put me on it
and just let go -
i was pointed down hill.
i rode as fast as lightning
until i hit the curb
and flipped over the bars
into the bushes.
you hoorayed and clapped so hard
i felt certain i was a hero
and didn't dare to cry.
so much of how i came to believe
the world was good and safe
was because you were always there -
pulling me in and out of danger -
keeping me steady on my tiny feet,
yelling pedal! pedal!
it seems like every night
i am chasing the minutes left
wondering what happened
and how it is i missed so much.
at one time they were so little
and every single day seemed to last forever -
i was just so tired.
now i am wide awake
and they are big
and 2 became 12
and 4 is 14
and i keeping asking them to stop.
stop breaking my momma heart
at the very same time you fill it up.
i think it is awful that
if love its a verb,
it's easy to be too busy to love.
i'm signing up for do-overs.
the rain is back
this time like a no nonsense bag lady
and their passing.
i wanted to say something important today
but there was turkey and cranberry mold
funeral potatoes and green beans
crispy onion, corn and cream -
plus cookies and cake and pie.
that shut me up
like a million lazy minutes
and all i could say was
when we decide to age together
and i mean really age -
without all the trying -
i hope you will remember that i am cute.
last night i played hooky -
not on purpose -
but because how do you stop
or even think to stop
and write a poem
when you are living right
in the middle of one?
He is 92 and was married for 67 years.
What's left of her, besides memories
is tucked away in drawers -
clip-on earrings, vintage prescription lenses
in side of empty bags.
he wants me to have some pieces of hers -
gives me gold and diamonds
precious metal and stone.
i want the tarnished chinese wiseman
in the costume jewelry drawer.
i will wear it
until you move into my house -
we will grow young together now.