Mount Señor Garcia and Lake Chapala from my gazebo
The world I see outside my sill— the clouds that cover lake and hill, treetops and vines that seek to fill every space–both rock and rill, completing crevasses until they’ve rendered empty spaces nil. These things now serve to fuel my quill. They are my unguent, band-aid, pill. They prick my fancy, charge my will. They level out that long uphill journey to that final kill when wan and empty, sore and ill, I will finally pay life’s bill.
A hand releases mooring lines and I go floating free.
Unmoored and unamóred, I float upon the sea.
Each time I find a tether, it lets loose of me,
for nature seems to be at odds with propinquity.
Nothing lasts forever or even long enough.
Each time the tattered sleeve of time shakes me off its cuff,
I am again amazed that the rules won’t change for me.
Each time I am newly surprised by mortality.
So many friends and lovers, so many family members
who once were bonfires in my life, flicker down to embers
then fade to ashes in a jar sitting on a shelf.
and once again my tether becomes only my self.
It is a cruel truth of life, this ephemerality
that severs every hawser as ones we love go free.
No matter what allegiance, what solidarity
is promised, still the vow that lasts is mutability.
We sail through life on an even keel, solving every small ordeal until one day, it turns surreal as death slides in like a slippery eel, our place in nature to firmly seal, our invulnerability to steal.
It’s true these thoughts were never real, but still, we feel what we must feel. In youth, our lives are stainless steel, Our pains are solved, our wounds all heal. Then death slips in like a slippery eel— gives no second chances. Does not deal.
A carnival barker with his spiel, death lures us with unfettered zeal, to spin us on the ferris wheel— all our accomplishments to peel and all our woe and all our weal to cast from us, reel after reel.
On a ride that nothing can repeal, it’s our turn to be nature’s meal. The surreal now becomes the real, and we join the universe’s wheel. The organs keen, the bells all peal as death slides in like a slippery eel.
The WP Prompt today is “heal,” and the NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem that depends on repetition.
On Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea, Your picture spills from an old album. You were on a verandah under purple bougainvillea, drinking the hot noon from your coffee cup as I drank passion fruit and watched Lake Tana birth the Nile.
Later, kneeling by the river, I made my hand into a cup, but you called out that slow death swam the blood of those who touched the river, while behind you on harsh branches, black birds barked stark music.
Now, on Sunday morning under orange bougainvillea, half a world and half a life away, I restore you to your proper place, remembering how, when they laid you down to dream beneath the purple bougainvillea, it was passionfruit’s sweet poison that flavored my life.
She was not the easiest one to be around, but she was fun. Her wit was sharp, also her tongue. And yet, I counted her among those dearest if not nearest to me. It was she who chose to woo me with books she thought me ready for filled with strange and heady lore of living by my intuition through which I came to my fruition. My whole life was changing then, Buscaglia and Jung and zen. I’d moved west and changed my thinking, took up pot and gave up drinking, decided that my thoughts on men needed revising. Only then did life straighten out for me— and part of it was meeting Lee. She read my poems, studied my art. I dodged her tongue and won her heart. As she won mine; yet other friends rejected her sincere amends, ’til I was one of two or three who chose to let our friendship be. Yes. It was, I must confess, because I saw her less and less. When I moved off to Mexico, our intercourse was rare and slow. The one last trip I took her on, quickly, truth began to dawn. Her memory span had grown so thin that barely did a thought begin before it came around again to the place where we’d just been. Sometimes our world leaves bit by bit until we are well rid of it Not so the friends who leave us slow. We still aren’t ready to let them go. My world was better for loving Lee, but with these lines, I set her free.
The WordPress prompt today was lovingly. I chose a slightly different approach to the word.
I have always found the below poem comforting and so, after quoting a line of it to Marilyn Armstrong just now, decided to share it with you all, as well. That said, I promise. No more posts about death. For awhile
As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.