From the collection published in 2018, Clean Canvas.
Extracted from My Life
I visited the dentist yesterday
Always the same hygienist
She retired. In January.
This is February.
Years of visits and
tooth enamel wearing down
a mother’s increasing forgetfulness
a broken crown on a lower left molar
children’s job prospects
and x-rays needed this visit
A sense of loss
is what you feel
and let a new person
clean your teeth
What other choice is there?
Haiku from a long time ago. Numbers 60 and 61 refer to our cat Fred Sherman, who died in 2001.
Before we knew it
Our old friend had said good-bye-
Too quick for our tears.
I thought I saw you
Skitter around the corner
To greet me – but no.
Oak leaves falling down
Acorns scattered on the ground
Feet form autumn sounds
This world’s no rest stop.
So get a thicker skin, girl.
Or else, what? Move out?
I’ve only known them
Three winters, those trees, that’s all –
But I respect them.
Here is another of those two-sentence stories with poetry added. I’m thinking of them as “Minuscule” and quick to read.
Read the first Minuscule, the explanation of why I wrote it and got started on this idea, and search under the category Fiction/Poetry Combination for others in the series.
My paint roller sketches out lines and fills in blocks, the walls receiving a transfusion of color as I cross-match the shades, the second coat to cover up the first, the third to satisfy my eye, the fourth to match wits with my clouded memories. I sweep the roller up and over, remaking my deal with the past in every stroke, comforted by the absences, and the phrase I repeat to myself every so often: Gone is gone.
ochre sweeps of mystery
the faded wallscape
the cans of paint persuading
let fresh color light old rooms
From Autumn Opens a Door, published in 2015.
The restless wind. It can’t sit still.
Quiet a moment and then takes a punch
at the window. What a racket
that frightened window makes.
Everything is changing. Nothing will remain.
Leaves in flight from trees whose
branches snap without notice scattering twigs
in the street.
A sense of being left behind.
Eagerness to be gone before
being left behind. Good-byes. Impatience.
Going somewhere. No one staying.
mail art postcard, 2012.
From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.
Some stubborn ones refused
or were just not interested but
it didn’t matter. In the end
they had no choice.
The lease clearly stated
the final date the premises may be occupied.
it is the last day.
The windows of the building are
The impossibility of staying behind
coming to be more than an idea
in this morning
the sky blank
opaque. You must go soon
the other buildings along this street
The lights in their windows
glowing behind the curtains
but now you are
they will be blank
More haiku from a long time ago. I got started working in this form when I did some sessions for my son’s 4th grade class.
Sudden burst of song
Beneath the open window
Startles, then delights.
In this morning’s hurry
There is still time to think of
Those old memories.
You ask who has walked
Along this ancient street, but
The stones are silent.
Don’t know? Or don’t care?
Forecast is for a spring snow,
But the birds still sing!
Buds will never bloom
On that old fruit tree, you know –
The storm’s toppled it.
Come in or stay out,
Don’t linger half here, half there.
Goodbye, if we must.
Muscles ache, but look!
The room is clean and calm now.
The paint job’s finished.
Kids stand silently,
Heads turned, in the spring downpour.
Where is that school bus?
Along the back steps,
Lit up by the sharp spring sun,
Pots of pansies glow.
Haiku from a long time ago. I remember the bowl mentioned in #40.
When the old bowl broke,
What luck! I found a new one
Exactly like it.
Addled with the heat
My head swims; thoughts slip downstream
Right out of my grasp.
One long rope of rain:
Cloudburst, roof gutter, drainpipe,
Curb stream, underground
Three times the nest filled–
That one on the ledge. Three times
We said a good-bye.
Muggy, close, gray day –
Still summer. But, the crows cry
And a few leaves fall.
More haiku from the archives.
The houseplant withers
And no one knows why. Its leaves
Scatter on the floor.
In the silent house
The withered plant drops a leaf
To the floor, loudly.
Lined along the window sill
Catch the neighbor’s eye.
Daffodils push up
Through the earth, far too early,
But they don’t think so.
In the wind-swept parking lot,
Shopping carts collide.
Haiku from long ago. Number 15 refers to an accident I had with a rotary cutter for fabric, requiring an ambulance…
Listen to those birds.
What can they be thinking now?
That a thaw has come?
The blade has cut my finger!
How did this happen?
1/26/99 (for 11/13/98)
The watch is broken
And cannot be fixed again.
Good-bye, my old friend.
About three weeks ago, one of our three cats died. He was fourteen and a half years old and in good health until the night before he died. It was a peaceful end to what I think was a very contented life; this cat had a high opinion of himself that never wavered and things seemed to suit him just fine at our house.
Once he was gone, things seemed a little out of balance at our house for a few days. I wrote this poem because of the way I felt, plain and simple.
By the way, this cat, Jasper, was the brother of Raquel, mentioned in a recent post. If you take the two poems together you have a little portrait of the end of the life-long relationship they had. Raquel is settling down now, but she still seems to be looking for Jasper at times.
Something is Wrong
Watermelon shifting restlessly in its paper bag on the floor
behind my seat
I feel it thud
every time I press the brake or turn the car
I try to turn
The air conditioning blows freezing cold on my hand
all the vents are turned toward me
on this humid hot summer afternoon.
The sky is a thick metallic-glazed bowl
marked with blue spaces that
open and shut.
In the filtered breezy strong two o’clock light
the leaves on the trees are turning over
the thunderclouds are building.
I have a dead cat on the floor in my basement laundry room
where he died this morning of old age
I know because I was there
I had to go out for errands so I covered him with a towel
as a friend suggested
and left everything for later.
I stop for the red light
the watermelon rolls the bag crackles
my purse falls off the front seat on to the floor
and spills its contents
Raquel (in front) and Jasper, 2001.
Jasper, grown up.