Tuesday, January 29, 2013
'... I want to know if you can get up
after a night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children...."
from 'The Invitation' by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
it's been one week
and I'm too damn tired to slap on
that bright and shiny plastic smile
and say all the stupid pointless, and hollow words,
to pointless, hollow plastic people - with shiny smiles - who don't,
give even the slightest of damns,
it has never occurred
to give a damn,
about anyone but,
it's been one week, and
the best I can do is put my head down
to sneak the odd nap,
and hope I don't drool on my arm.
one week, and I still wish they did,
give a damn, that is
that we're in so much pain over here,
HELLO.... can you see me?
can anyone see us?
but thinking and wishing
for people to be different doesn't
do anything but make me more nuts,
and today I quit bashing my head
against that glass wall.
today, I walk away.
today, I made myself some goddamn tea
and lit a goddamn candle,
because, somehow that's suppose to help
I have no fucking clue what.
and now I'm writing word, after word, after Mother-Fucking Word,
that mean absolutely nothing, it's just my
word vomit on a page,
I'll write till I can't anymore, then
I'm going to draw some really ugly lines,
some terrible pictures,
and doodles, that I will hate, and I'll crumple them all up,
and throw them at the wall
and I wonder
why it is I haven't cried yet (except for that one time).
shouldn't I be crying?
shouldn't I be on the floor sobbing?
I mean really, this is really awful stuff, the stuff of every parent's nightmares
and all I can manage is tired
and occasionally snippy?
what the fuck wrong with me?
I'm just so damn tired,
my stomach feels like cold black stone, and
a boot is stomping down, Hard, on my chest, and I can't breath
but no tears, no time for tears.
maybe I'm tired enough to finally see,
who the love comes from,
who is my tribe, who will hold us, and sustain us.
the rest are dross.
"What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage...."
from Ezra Pound's 'Canto LXXXI'
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
and when you think things won’t get worse,
that things have turned a corner,
and while it’s not rosy,
at least it’s not hell anymore,
and you dare to hope that there could be a future.
that night when you’d expect to be in bed
you are driving quickly to emergency
you are driving your child
your child with the belly full of pills
and you’re hoping you get there before
it kills his liver, before
it kills him
and in your pajama bottoms you walk determinedly past people
and go to the head of the line
(how very un-Canadian of you)
and you say in a loud clear voice your son has overdosed
and you hand them the bottle
then it’s all motion, and follow me
and take off your clothes and pee in this cup
needles for blood, needles for IVs, stickers for electrodes
monitors and carts with medications
speedy doctors and nurses all talking at once
and you sit, in your pajama pants, and text his father, because
his father who was too fucking upset to do anything useful, because
his father couldn’t even manage to put on his own damn shoes
so, you’re in charge, again
you’re the one who copes, again
the one who holds the family together, again
it’s not that you mind, but
wait, you do mind, you mind a lot
you’re tired, and you’re alone and watching the speedy medical staff
and you have to answer his irritating questions with text messages
later, when it seems your son won’t die tonight,
you go home and talk down his father who is ‘very upset’
and ‘needs to vent’ and likes to
‘process his frustrations out loud’, to you, because he can’t talk to anyone else
and what the hell is he going to tell his family
(don’t answer that)
and when you finally say fuck it and go to bed
3 hours before you get up for work, and
you lay your clothes out on the floor, just in case,
just, in case the hospital calls and you have to rush back
because actually he is going to die tonight
but he doesn’t
so you go to work the next day and do the only thing you can think to do
is write a fucking poem
because that fixes everything
because you sure can’t talk to people about the latest and greatest Swirling Shit Storm
your family is going through
Here are the Swirling Shit Storm Rules:
your son goes to rehab,
no one notices
you drive 700miles a week,
you leave your daughters to fend for themselves
no one notices
your son overdoses,
no one wants to talk to you
your daughters are so tired they don’t want to talk to you
you buy your daughters ice cream and teddy bears and chocolate
but that fixes nothing
their brother is still in the hospital
and they can’t talk about it
they don’t want to talk anymore about it
your son actually dies,
well then, everyone wants to talk
people send you flowers
and bring food
and love, and there is a big get together
and everyone says nice things about your son,
about you, and they actually
talk to you and your daughters
and his father can vent to someone other than you
and there’s the rub,
until your son actually dies,
there’s no one to talk to
you’re buying the fucking flowers for yourself
and the fucking comfort food for your daughters
and talking his father, the fuck down, again,
because you're in this on your own
and you best just get used to it.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
When I was about 10 we had a small mutt my mother had found in the alley behind the library where she worked. We called him Book. He was a street smart, funny. lovable small black mutt. He was my little brother's and my first dog, and we adored him. One night when my mom and step father were out I had a terrible feeling in my stomach about Book. That night I played with him, rubbed his belly, and must have given him half a box of dog cookies. Nothing bad happened, and I went to bed. When my they got back, my step father drove the babysitter home. We think Book must have got out and tried to follow the car. My mother woke me early the next day after she spent a sleepless night worrying and we all went looking for him. We lived about three blocks from a main street, and on the far side of that street, laying on the grass beneath a tree we saw Book. I rushed to him, and reached out my hand to wake him, and only then when my fingers touched stiff cold fur did I realize he was dead.
We buried Book in the backyard under a bed of flowers, it was the only time I ever saw my step father cry. My mother said that some kind person must have picked Book up off the road after he had been hit, and laid him gently on the grass for us to find him. Tied up with the sadness of losing our dog was the thought that someone had been kind to him, and also to us by taking the time to stop, pick up his body and gently place in on the grass.
Late last night I was coming home with my daughter and we saw the body of tortoise shell cat on the road. We circled round and stopped just behind it. She looked like she had been a well loved pet. She looked like she had died instantly. We stood and looked at her silently, my car's headlights illuminating her. After a moment I walked back to my car and got a small white gym towel from my yoga bag. I knelt down and wrapped her still warm and pliable body in it and carried her to a grassy area under a small tree. Her back legs and fluffy tail stuck out from the end of the towel and her fur stirred slightly in the wind. I placed my hand on her side and said how sorry I was she had died. We stood a moment more and got in the car and drove the rest of the way home.
Four years ago when our young, beautiful, and foolish dog Willow got out of the yard and was run over, many people stopped, someone called me and we rushed to spend our last moments with her before she died. Someone brought a blanket that they never saw again, another person brought a board for us to lift her shattered and dying body into our car. My daughter sobbed, held her face, and said her name over and over again. The driver of the car stood crying. Before we got in our car to rush Willow to the vet in some mad hope that she could be saved, I went to the driver and told him it was not his fault. She was a skittish dog, and very fast, and he could not have avoided her. I didn't want him to carry any more grief and guilt than he was already going to. I don't remember anyone from that day. I have never been able to thank them for stopping, for helping our dog and us when it was most needed.
We never knew who carried Book from the road that night almost forty years ago, but that act of kindness stayed with me. It helped me tell the driver it was not his fault; it is what guided me when I carried the cat from the road last night. One act of kindness decades old still touches me and through me touches the world. Such is the way of kindness.