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 wanted to bring you flowers -
lift the scent of jasmine out of the air
or carry the wind with me -
to where you were hiding,
under the sleep-strained sheets
and the empty bottles -
to before pills and drink and men
could destroy you.
but you won't answer the phone
or the door
or the possibility of things being different -
because, you say,
there is no hope -
inside these dark hours -
these endless moments of grief -
this constant feeling of loss.
i say i have been there -
have run full bore into the darkness myself -
trying to get there
before it could come get me.
how i have buried myself also -
under the impenetrable longing and the shame -
and the elusive promise of forgetting.
you still think i couldn't possibly understand,
that no one can possibly understand.
but we do. So many of us truly do.
i once held the hand of a beautiful woman
while she pushed a baby out of her body
into the world.
Two years later, I held that baby
while we buried her beautiful mother
into the earth.
She'd been found dead -
kicked to death
in a crack house
just outside of town.
She was one of us -
someone with dreams and fears and love and concern -
a lifetime of new beginnings and loss.
And it started with just one little pill.
When i call you -
which i will do -
again and again and again
until you answer,
because i recognize that you are ill
and not just a pain in the ass -
i will say
come outside and smell the wind,
watch the morning unfurl with me -
she how it just opens up quietly
into the darkness instead of against it -
until all signs of night are simply gone.
and look how we are standing here alone -
just you and me -
and also a million other people
inside their houses and their cars
under their bridges and in alleys and parks.
All of us watching the light open up -
wondering how we will do it.
what we will choose -
while there is still a choice to be made.
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.
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.