Category Archives: poems about death

The Wings of Hummingbirds

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The Wings of Hummingbirds

They break my heart,
these delicate wings of hummingbird
strewn on my porch
with a tiny head displaying one beak,
one eye.

Stripped of adornment,

one slight hummingbird
would hardly make a meal for a cat—
especially one recently fed at my kitchen door. 

Where was I when this travesty

was committed,
carried out by  a cat
true to its nature
and therefore bearing no sin?

I was out back,
 filling the hummingbird feeder left by guests,
though I prefer the natural sight
of hummingbirds feeding at the aloe blossoms
or thunbergia or frangipani.
 
 In the fenced backyard,
the dogs create a territory safe from cats,
but what am I to do about the obelisco plant I love so much in front—
 the one spied every day with a new bloom
as I walk past it to my car? 
What’s to be done for the royal poinciana,
seventeen years old,
spreading its shelter over street and wall and front garden alike?
A dangerous draw in a yard frequented by cats.
What’s to be done?
Defrock the area they roam in to make it hummingbird-free?

That double-pronged nature of cats—
their beauty and their savagery––
displayed so vividly in man himself of late––
 can it be anything but plan?
And to what purpose?
We love the ways of nature but turn our back on half of them,
hoping they will not be demonstrated in our lives.
Until that one last fatal claw of fate descends upon us
and we fall into that scheme, resisting,
but our efforts futile.

Why are endings necessary?
Why must our hearts be broken
 time and again
before they themselves are the breaking thing
and we pass into nature,
undivided, part of a whole both savage and tragic in its beauty. 
Here is the hummingbird whole.
 The cat whole.
Here are we, whole, observing them.
That has to be enough. 
The now. This look.
This touch. This satiation for the moment.
The hummingbird before the slaughter,
the bone before the break.

Birthday Reflections

What person doesn’t, as they approach and then enter the year in their life that marks the year a parent died, feel some trepidation? My father, my grandfather and even my husband died at the age of 70, and some little perversity of my mind has feared all year long that I would join them.  All my life, I have avoided black cats who crossed my path and walking under ladders. When I spill salt, I throw a bit over my left shoulder, just in case. It is not that I believe, necessarily , in these superstitions, but nonetheless, I avoid them. So it is with dangers in my seventieth year.  I stayed home more.  Avoided crowds and travel. I wrote more. Got my house in order—to a degree. I lavished attention on my animals, hoping they would remember me fondly, found surrogate parents for all but the cats. 

Poor cats.  I think those cats, however, represented that sane part of me who knew I would survive this milestone. I would be here to care for them for a good many years.  Perhaps twenty-one. Perhaps twenty-six.  My mother died at the age of 91, my paternal grandmother at 96. Perhaps it would be their genetic makeup in me that would determine my lifespan.  All ridiculous meanderings of a mind left too much in solitude, by choice.  Today I turned 71, riddled by amoebas as I was last year in the week approaching my birthday, but battling back.

Last night one of my best and oldest friends called to talk me into my birthday.  As we talked, Forgottenman sent a Happy Birthday message precisely at Midnight. I opened the cards sent by my sister.  She said they were pre-birthday cards. I await the official one. 

When my alarm went off at 8 this morning to awaken me for my morning dose of antibiotics, dogs and cats remained silent. A strange occurrence.  Usually, at the first signs of my stirring, they set up their morning cacophony. This morning, however, all remained silent.  It was fifteen minutes later, after I’d read Facebook greetings and checked blog statistics, that they set up a terrific clamor.  I heard a gate creak open, although no one was scheduled for work this morning.  A key turned in the front lock. My bedroom door opened.  It was Yolanda and family: Juan Pablo, Oscar, and Yoli, with chihuahua Bryan in arms. Oscar carried flowers. Juan Pablo a gift. It was a surprise early-morning birthday visit before they all drove Yolanda to work in La Ribera. I made coffee, poured fruit juice for the kids and small shots of a special pistachio mescal for the adults. Not me, as I’m on antibiotics. We took photos, tried to introduce Bryan the dog to my dogs.  Oscar cracked open the door to the doggie domain just a bit. My dogs, sniffing and curious, were friendly.  Bryan, the runt, snarled to assert his authority, there in the arms of Oscar, his protector.

We took photos and they departed. The amoebas that seemed to be in abeyance yesterday have returned full-fold.  The late afternoon lunch I had planned with friends, (a tentative appointment since they all, too, are suffering from amoebas) will probably not happen after all. My appointment with a doctor will. I’ll see her for relief from this yearly visitor that, when it departs, always leaves me with an increased enjoyment of life and health. A profound appreciation of just feeling normal. 

As I looked for something to remove from my laptop so I could move the photos you’ll see below there to work with them, I found this poem written a few months ago.  I’ve printed it before and then forgotten it, but reading it today as a stranger might, I realized that it encapsulates a lot of what I’ve been feeling this past year; so here it is again, read with a new appreciation of what it means. 

Swimming to Sandy Bottom

Working my way to sandy bottom,
through murky waters growing clear.
Through all the things I daily think of
down to the plain facts that I fear.

Swimming down to sandy bottoms,
down to past truths and future fears.
The daily details float behind as
I face old matters in arrears.

If my whole life should tell a story,
how do the details all add up?
I’ve always thought time was a sieve, but
perhaps I’ll find it was a cup.

Working my way to sandy bottom,
the flotsam of my years floats near.
All the past terrors and past glories,
and future truths I’ve come to fear.

Working my way to sandy bottom,
no oxygen to draw my breath.
Working our ways to sandy bottom,
we spend our lives to buy our death.

All the glories and the triumphs.
All the failures and the fears.
All the trophies we’ve collected,
and all the tattered, used-up years.

Working our ways to sandy bottoms,
will there be gold grains in the sands?
Too late to spend discovered riches,
they slip like lives right through our hands.

Working our ways to sandy bottoms,
our lives lift up as we swim down,
As we leave the past behind us,
we find our future all around.

Click on first photo and then on right arrows to enlarge all.

Swimming to Sandy Bottom

 

jdb photos. Click on any image to enlarge all.

Swimming to Sandy Bottom

Working my way to sandy bottom,
through murky waters growing clear.
Through all the things I daily think of,
I hone in on what I hold dear.

Swimming down to sandy bottom,
down to past truths and future fears.
The daily details float behind as
I face old matters in arrears.

If my whole life should tell a story,
how do the details all add up?
I’ve always thought time was a sieve, but
perhaps I’ll find it was a cup.

Working my way to sandy bottom,
the flotsam of my years floats near.
All the past terrors and past glories,
and future truths I’ve come to fear.

Trying to reach that sandy bottom,
no oxygen to draw my breath.
Working our ways to sandy bottom,
we spend our lives to buy our death.

All the glories and the triumphs.
All the failures and the fears.
All the trophies we’ve collected,
and all the tattered, used-up years.

Working our ways to sandy bottom,
will there be gold grains in the sands?
Too late to spend discovered riches,
they slip like lives right through our hands.

Working our ways to sandy bottom,
our lives lift up as we swim down,
As we leave the past behind us,
we find our future all around.

 

This was actually written as a song.  I had a melody in my mind as I wrote it, but it awaits a more talented composer of music than I am. The daily addiction prompt word was “hone.”

The Wall: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 29

The prompt today is to write a poem inspired by a Sylvia Plath poem.  Below the photo is the poem I wrote. The Plath poem I chose that inspired it is given below my poem.

The Wall

I put my hand against the raw stone of the wall
and I can feel it siphoning molecules.
There is a tingling sensation
as they flow out of me.

I try to send some extrasensory
particles along with them
to communicate to me
where they go
and what they encounter there,
but I know that it is futile.

I cannot follow
where these lost parts of me go––
these thoughts, wishes,
aspirations
that I surrender to the wall.

It is not by choice, you know,
that I sit here facing what 
has  been leached out of my life.

I go on living what life I can,
knowing that in time
all of me will finally
flow into the wall.

 I’ve lost so much ambition to it—
and hope and curiosity.

So much of what has kept me engaged in life
has already  gone into that gray world
where I cannot yet follow.

Now I sit here, facing it,
acknowledging my failure
as well as the wall’s exclusivity.
Only my shadow
cast against it
reminds me that
somewhere behind me
there is a sun.

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For NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 29.

 

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                              Apprehensions

                                              — by Sylvia Plath

There is this white wall, above which the sky creates itself —
Infinite, green, utterly untouchable.
Angels swim in it, and the stars, in indifference also.
They are my medium.
The sun dissolves on this wall, bleeding its lights.

A grey wall now, clawed and bloody.
Is there no way out of the mind?
Steps at my back spiral into a well.
There are no trees or birds in this world,
There is only sourness.

This red wall winces continually:
A red fist, opening and closing,
Two grey, papery bags —
This is what i am made of, this, and a terror
Of being wheeled off under crosses and rain of pieties.

On a black wall, unidentifiable birds
Swivel their heads and cry.
There is no talk of immorality among these!
Cold blanks approach us:
They move in a hurry.

Parts of Him

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Parts of Him

You look so like him on our passing—
that strongly muscled arm,
his hair brushing your shoulder,
but you do not have his charm.

Your hands curl in a gesture
so familiar in its kind,
but they do not form the magic
his hands mold within my mind.

Your smile is so like his—
that chortle when you laugh—
but I see you cannot be him
as we pass upon the path.

Your stance is his, your bearing
when I see you from afar.
It’s just as we draw nearer
I see who you really are.

These long years since his passing,
I still look for him in places
where in the crowds I search him out
in unsuccessful faces.

Each similar demeanor
reaches out a tentacle
to draw me to a likeness
that, alas, is not identical.

The prompt today is identical.

Above

jdb photos, 2018.  To enlarge all photos, click on any one.


Above

By putting so much beauty so far beyond our reach,
what truths of the universe might nature try to teach?
One story told by earth and sea, here within our clutch,
another told by what’s above, that only eyes can touch.

 

The prompt today is above.

Released


Released

All night long I follow scripts written by some hand
perhaps belonging to a self that consciousness has banned.
Fresh from dreams, I feel released from tasks committed to
as I remember other jobs that I’m obliged to do.
Who knows if dreams are showing us those things we could have done—
those things we have forgotten with the dawning of the sun.
If only I remembered that world that fades away,
perhaps I’d face a very different sort of day.
Instead, I slip into the role my life has led me to,
like forcing naked feet into a more confining shoe.

 I wonder if these dreams were brought to light if they’d show more
of potential lives where I live closer to my core.
Perhaps these stories I concoct, labelling them as lore,
are simply other lives I live on a lower floor.
When I descend into my dreams, maybe I go to ponder
all those other me’s whose gifts I have chosen to squander.
Could it be in death that I’m released to find a goal
in the bargain basement of the building of my soul—
to find another path where I may once more start a quest
towards a self just one step closer to my very best?

 


The prompt today is release. Once again, I’ve edited and reblogged a poem written three and a half years ago. A fine way to find time to edit and since I never remember these poems, perhaps if you’ve followed my blog for this long, you’ve forgotten them, too.