Posts Tagged ‘death’

Stereotactic

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These machines would be softer
had their creators been women.

There would be less smashing,
for starters. Less smashing
and gentler needles.

In the waiting room you fidget
through piles of last year’s  glossy models
and wonder if this blonde ever dangled a breast
through a glory hole in an elevated table
like a Toyota awaiting tire rotation.

Yesterday on the phone, your doctor
avoided all words beginning with C
and instructed you, belatedly,
not to worry.

But the second that fuzzy-lipped nurse
pinned you in place with a well-practiced
look of pity, the moment she plied you
with poorly-written brochures
about procedures and tissue samples,
you bypassed worry and shortcut
straight to funeral planning.

The nurse’s voice, tuned to a level
statistically proven to be soothing,
turned to static before she even
got to the part about how calcifications
are “usually” benign.

In your head, you’re already malignant.
You’re already bisected and breastless.
You’re already ash.

It’s like that pre-dawn phone call
months ago warning of tsunami.
And though they swiftly chased it
with platitudes about low probabilities,
and the tide could barely be bothered
to rise half a foot, you had already seen how the wave
would hulk down on all those complacent roofs,
turning your haven into so much flotsam
polluting the slipstream.

Panicked and pajama-clad, you stuffed
the trunk with non-essential photo albums
and the long white box in which your
long white wedding dress lay entombed.
You scooped up your favorite boots and
tossed in a notebook of poems and drove
up the hill to the safe zone while your neighbors slept on
and woke calmly to their coffee mugs,
immune to overreaction.

Now you sit bared to the waist
in a sickly pink room and memorize
the letters you must write to your tiny daughter
about how she shouldn’t try to be popular
in high school, because it’s the nerds
who always turn out better in the end.

When they open the door smiling
with gauze and hollow needles
you begin to understand just how far
your body will go to betray you.

 

-Lo, who got the negative result today. And I mean “negative” in the most positively benign way possible. Happy ending and all that.

365 LeeLoo-less Days

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

loo_smile

One year ago today, LeeLoo passed away.

For months after, I cried every day. The sense of loss was incredible.

I still miss her and think of her daily, but it does get better with time, as the cliche goes. Perhaps because time dulls the edges of your memory. That, and having a wiggly newborn around just weeks after the Loo died proved to be very distracting.

But I still miss her wiggly butt and crispy tongue and nubbly underbite.

And I don’t think she’d mind, at all, if we added a new wiggly butt to the family. Not to replace her, because that would be impossible. But just because a fur friend is very good to have.

-Lo, marking the days.

My Friend LeeLoo

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

mood: devastated | drinking: who cares?

the_leeloo

I woke up this morning to a world that’s just not right.

There was no LeeLoo snoring at the foot of my bed, and she wasn’t curled up like a peanut on the couch, either. There are empty patches on the floor in the bedroom and the living room, where her dog beds are supposed to be. The dining room is strangely bare of bits of kibble. The house is so quiet. The clock ticks so loud. And LeeLoo is just… gone.

It’s been nearly 8 years since Boy and I saw her picture on petfinder.com. A side profile of a small fawn boxer, sitting quietly with her lower jaw jutting about 2 inches out below her top lip. “That one,” I said. “We definitely have to go see that one.”

I remember walking up to the foster home in San Jose where she was staying and seeing her through the fence. She trotted right up to us, smaller than I had imagined. “I know who you are,” I said. Two hours later, she was riding home with us.

LeeLoo has been a part of our family through some of the best years of our lives, and some of the most difficult times, too. She’s been such a faithful friend to me. Boy travels a lot for his work, but I was never alone when he was out of town. I had LeeLoo. Our routine would just change slightly while he was gone. Instead of hopping onto the foot of the bed in the middle of the night, the Loo would pop right up onto the bed and curl up on Bruce’s pillow, within arm’s reach, every single time.

Boy is out of town for work again, but there was no LeeLoo on his pillow last night.

She was elderly for a boxer lady. We adopted her when she was 5, and she would have celebrated her 13th birthday this December. Pretty impressive, since boxers usually fall prey to cancer at a much younger age.

But LeeLoo has been healthy and happy for a long time, and at her senior checkup just a couple of months ago, the vet passed her with flying colors and said he thought she’d be around for quite awhile.

So I was making plans, having visions of LeeLoo and the Bean. She loved kids and babies, with those small deliciously lickable faces. I had imagined LeeLoo when we brought Bean home from the hospital, all excited at this new fun adventure we all were embarking on. It’s fairly heartbreaking to realize that Bean will never get to know her.

Everything took a turn for the worst 2 weeks ago when LeeLoo suffered a seizure on a Tuesday night. It took her about an hour to recover from it, and Boy was on the phone with the emergency vet while I sat by her bed and stroked her. She seemed to perk up off and on over the last two weeks, but now that I look back on it, she never really returned to “normal”.

After a battery of tests that revealed nothing, no tumors, no anomalies in her bloodwork, nothing but a mild heart arrhythmia, the vet was stymied and said that only further (invasive) testing would help us determine the cause for sure. But Boy and I didn’t want to put LeeLoo through all of that. She seemed comfortable, she hadn’t had any more seizures. She was just more tired than normal, so we were all taking it easy.

At 34 weeks of pregnancy, my walking pace is so slow that a grandpa on a walker with arthritis could pass me by, so LeeLoo and I were well suited for taking short, slow walks together.

That’s what we did on Sunday, with Boy, in Golden Gate Park. I took these pictures of her, I guess out of some sort of unconscious intuition that they might be her last. loo3

We had a fun walk. She was slow, and tired, but so was I. So we took plenty of time to smell odd-looking blades of grass and meander slowly through the park paths.

Sunday night I helped her climb up on our bed and she slept there, snoring quietly between us, until 6 a.m. I had to help her down the stairs to the back yard, since she was pretty wobbly. But I never thought, yesterday morning, that it would be our last morning with her.

Boy left for his out-of-town job, I headed to work and dropped LeeLoo off at our friends’, Trini & Kim’s house. They also have a senior lady dog, Reilly, and she and LeeLoo have been good friends for years now.

At 12:30 Kim called to tell me that LeeLoo had vomited blood and passed out. They were on their way to the vet. I left work and met them there.

All I had to say to the receptionist was, “LeeLoo?” And they rushed me to a back room marked “Staff Only”.

And there was my little furry lady, my best friend, my LeeLoo, weak and limp on a shiny silver table, wheezing for every breath with an oxygen mask over her muzzle and an IV of fluids in her right front leg. She rolled her eyes and looked up at me and I just kept telling her it would be okay.

But it wasn’t ok. As far as the vet could tell, she had suffered another seizure that had damaged the area in her brain that controls respiration and blood pressure. Her legs were no longer working, her breath was not coming easy, and her blood pressure was nearly zero. They think perhaps she’s had a small tumor, slowly growing on her brain for months, and all the x-rays never detected it.

“If I were you and she were my dog,” the vet said, “I would let her go.”

I had to call Boy and tell him. I know it was very difficult for him not to be there. I got to spend several minutes with her, saying goodbye and telling her that she was the best dog in the whole word. Not a hyperbole. To me, she was.

And then Kim and Trini came in and we all sat around her and petted her and loved her until her breath went away.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was leave her lying there, so still, wrapped in her red blanket. I kept saying goodbye and then sitting back down and then trying to leave again.

I know she wasn’t there anymore, but it was the last time I’d ever see her, all the little bits of her that are so familiar to me. The scar on her hip where the Doberman bit her 6 years ago, the little lumps and bumps she’s grown as she got older. The soft flaps of her ears and the way she would sigh whenever I rubbed them. Her little chiclet teeth and her one-of-a-kind underbite. The way her long pink tongue would stick out and get all crispy when she slept. Her little footpads that smelled of corn chips. That little butterfinger tail nub that would wag so hard, her body would turn in a U-shape when you walked through the door.

I can’t believe she’s gone.

The house is so quiet, the clock ticks so loud.

I can’t stop crying.

Someday, I know, the ache will dull. Bean will be here, and Bruce and I will take her to meet a new dog, a dog who will ride home with us and become a part of our family and teach us new memories.

But that doesn’t change the fact that now there is no LeeLoo in the world. And we’re all worse off because of it.
loo

I told LeeLoo, when I was alone with her yesterday, before the vet came with the needle, that she didn’t have to fight for breath anymore. That her pain would go away and she’d go meet her old friend Yoda, and they would both be young and healthy and happy, and they could go to the beach and chase birds for hours.

I don’t know what happens to our fur friends when they leave us, but I hope that someday, we will meet them again.

LeeLoo, I miss you. So much, my little friend. You changed my life. I love you.
-Lo

loo_yodes
(LeeLoo & her old pal Yoda)

loo_henry
(LeeLoo and her “internet boyfriend” from Portland, Henry D. Monster, who is hopefully feeding her bacon cupcakes right about now.)

About What Was Lost

Friday, December 4th, 2009

mood: transparent | drinking: liquids

test

Positive

I take the test on Thursday night.

I already know what the answer will be
but I need more than intuition
and swollen ankles
to prove it.

I place the stick on the sink,
peel off my clothes.
The purple plus sign begins to form
before I can unbutton my jeans.

I avert my eyes and turn on the water.

I stay in the shower much longer than necessary
draw the razor up to my knee
shampoo my hair a second time.
The katoush of my heart is louder than plumbing.

I want to be delighted. I want to be ecstatic.
I want to be something other than terrified.

***

I watch him as I walk down the stairs—
he only has a few seconds of ignorance left.
It seems cruel not to warn him.

But I carry no words,
only a positive plus
on a plastic wand,
which I deliver with unsteady hands.

The seconds it takes him to get it
stretch on for a hundred years.
But then
he grins.

We walk in the dark with the dog to the store
and buy two more tests.

At midnight, we lay three purple plus signs
in a row on the table and stare
until one of us starts to giggle,
and then the other.

We are giddy. We are hysterical.
We can’t go to sleep.

***

The next Tuesday, I begin to bleed.

It takes three days of doctors
to confirm what I already know,

and more than a week
for my body to expel
the tiny ruby bits
of a person I had barely begun to believe in.

When I am finally empty,
we grieve in separate rooms.

*****

The statistics say that 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and that more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.

I am a statistic now.

On Thursday, October 22nd, Boy and I found out we were pregnant. Our best guess put us at about 5-6 weeks along. On Tuesday, October 27, the day we got the keys to our new house, I began to miscarry. It took 8 days.

Just two weeks before that, one of my very best friends suffered a miscarriage when she was nearly 7 weeks pregnant. When it happened to her, I didn’t even know that I was pregnant, and of course had no inkling that I would undergo the same loss myself just days later.

I didn’t know how common miscarriage is, until it happened to me. For some reason, we tend to suffer the loss silently, perhaps out of some sense of shame that it was somehow our fault, or just the need to curl into ourselves during a confusing, frightening and painful time.

But what I have found as I have slowly begun to speak about what I lost, is that so many women around me have gone through the same loss. One woman told me she had seven miscarriages in the space of two years before ultimately carrying her baby to term. My own mother had two miscarriages before I was born.

As lonely as it feels when you’re in the middle of it, there are thousand and hundreds of thousands of women who bleed like you. Who know exactly how you feel. I wish their voices were louder.

I usually keep the most personal aspects of my life off the internet, but in this I do not want to stay silent.

It has taken me some time to process what has happened–I had barely begun to even believe I was pregnant at all. I know I’m not finished dealing with the repercussions of this loss. Neither is Boy. And we will deal with it together, privately.

But in the meantime I want to put this poem out there, so that somewhere, someone knows she is not the only one.

-Lo, breaking the silence.

The Other Side

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

mood: visionary | drinking: new tea

nightbridge

October has, thus far, been a month of Happenings. I feel like we’re finally coming out the other side of months of upheaval and change. Certainty awaits.

Among the biggest of those happenings is the happy news that we close escrow on our new house next week. I can’t wait to get those keys in hand! Of course, after I get those keys  I’ll need to grab myself a paintbrush, too.

But it will be nice to have something to DO, finally, after all these months of waiting and wondering where we would end up. I’ve happily submitted my change-of-address forms to the P.O. too, because it makes it feel official. (As if signing a mountain-sized pile of loan documents doesn’t.)

Amidst all the good news this month there has been sad news, too. Last week an old friend of mine died. Her name was Heidi, and I have known her since we were 4 years old. We grew up together, carpooled to school together, rode bikes, walked our dogs, attempted to learn Spanish.

In high school, Heidi was in the cool crowd while I hung out in the front row with the other nerds. But she never made me feel slighted, and when we ended up at the same junior college for a year or so after graduation, we went nearly everywhere together.

Heidi married shortly after I graduated from college, and asked me to read a poem at her wedding. After I moved away I only saw her rarely, but kept up with her from a distance as she got her nursing degree and had two children. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago and survived.

But cancer reappeared earlier this year and claimed her life last Sunday. Her funeral was yesterday and I wasn’t able to attend, but my thoughts have been with her and her family these last few days.

I have only lost two friends my age so far in my life. Which is lucky, I know. But it’s still so strange to think of people around me suddenly not being there anymore. Mortality is a mystery to the living.

…I’m at a loss for a segue. I seem to just be rambling along here anyway.

Last weekend Boy and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin headlands. We had no particular destination in mind, we just wanted to go somewhere, to be moving instead of sitting at home. We ended up high above the fog, in the dark, watching the clouds close in on the bridge down below.

And I thought, for the hundred millionth time, how happy I am to live here. And how lucky.

My parents fly in today from Illinois, so there’s a family reunion in my very near future. They’re bringing my Gramma Ruth with them, her first trip to California and her first time on a plane, I think since 1968.

Boy and I are in charge of bringing pies to the family festivities, so I’d best get off my duff and up in search of flaky crusts.

I’ll be back next week with a set of brand new keys.

-Lo, getting up and at ’em.

Passage

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Mood: Un-birthday | Drinking: Warm Dr. Pepper

casket

Today, my birthday, was also my grandmother’s funeral.

I was asked to do a reading during the service, and I read two poems, one that I wrote last Tuesday, the day after she died, and one that my writin’ group friends, Melissa & Kathy recommended. I’d like to share them both with you…

The End

I hear the sirens
from the end of the driveway
winding up Meheula
riding to the rescue.

It has already been three minutes,
three minutes and a lifetime.

On the floor inside the house
daughter cradles unseeing mother
rocking,
waiting.

The end comes
sooner than you want it to
and no matter how much you prepare
you’re never really ready.

Today in the dappled green park
birds flocked
to wheelchair and stroller
as side by side,
grandson and great
grandmother
flung crumbs to waiting beaks
and flirted.

Her last day was lived in the sun
lit up with laughter,
encircled by love
high above aquamarine waves.

It has been four minutes,
four minutes and 85 years.
The sirens spin closer now.
There’s no more time
to say goodbye.

***

Remember
by Christina Rosetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land;
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
you tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve:
for if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.

-Lo, in remembrance of Mary Ellen.

The Unbearable Lightness

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Mood: Numb | Drinking: I should be!

verybadday

When I was little, I loved the book about the boy Alexander and his “terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day.” Something about the drama of that statement seemed hilarious to me at the time.

But I have had a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good week, and am not yet finding it hilarious.

The lead-in to this supersonically shitastic week began last month when my parents were visiting and we got a call from my aunt, who lives in Hawaii. She has had my grandmother living with her for the past year and a half. Three weeks ago, Nana was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Upon hearing the news, my mother decided to fly over to Hawaii so she could see her mom and see what she could do to help. My sister decided to go with her so she could introduce her 10-month-old son to his great-grandma before it was too late. I decided to go with them to be of whatever support I could.

So on November 1st my mom, my sister, my nephew and I boarded a plane to Oahu. I’ve never been to Hawaii before. It’s a very strange experience, going to a vacation spot on such an anxious family errand. Everyone else was wearing bikinis and flaunting their newly acquired tans while the three Witmer women jostled about on various harried excursions, sweaty, disheveled, toting a tired baby and wearing decidedly un-tropical shoes.

Thus began what has quite possibly been the worst week of my life. The photo above was taken on Sunday, November 2, at sunset on the North Shore near Haliewa. It was possibly the last truly peaceful moment I will have in quite awhile.

On Monday, while I was at my aunt’s house, Nana suddenly complained of chest pain, then head pain, then her knees buckled as my aunt was helping her walk. I lunged across the room to help catch her as she fell, and my aunt and I lowered her to the floor where she lay, gasping for breath like a fish on the shore, eyes rolled up in her head.

My aunt and I were the only ones there at the time, so I called 911, then called my mother as I stood at the end of the driveway waiting for the ambulance. My mom and the paramedics arrived at the same time, and she and I drove behind the ambulance to the hospital in Wahiawa.

Nana was pronounced dead 20 minutes after our arrival.

That was Monday. On Tuesday, amid the shock of grief and initial frantic funeral planning, I anxiously watched election returns come in. I had cast my vote early at city hall once I knew I would be out of state on election day, but I missed the thrill of that early morning democratic ritual, wearing the sticker in to work and walking about the rest of the day feeling oh, so civic-minded.

I didn’t have access to a TV, so I was scanning several websites at once and instant messaging with Boy, trying to keep up as states were called blue or red.

Of course, I am overjoyed that Barack Obama is now our President-Elect, and I am filled with hope at what that means for the future of our battered country. But the thrill of victory was tempered by the passage, here in California, of Proposition 8, which takes away the right of gay couples to get married. Such a crushing blow for equal rights everywhere.

That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, my sister and I woke early and packed our bags because our return flight for the mainland was scheduled for that afternoon. First, though, we stopped by my aunt’s house to help deal with decisions that needed to be made: When were my aunt and my mom flying back to Illinois? When should we have the wake and the funeral? What relatives still needed to be called? Who were the pallbearers going to be? What photos of Nana did we have for a memorial? What clothes should she wear in the casket?

So many decisions, so many emotions, and no time. As my sister and I checked our bags at the airport in Honolulu, I realized I had left my credit card at the Mililani Kinko’s where we had been scanning in old family photos so Boy could use them to make a memorial DVD for the funeral service. I’ve never forgotten my credit card anywhere. What a time to do it!

Seven hours later, give or take, my sister, my nephew and I landed at SFO a bit bedraggled and worse for wear. I crashed into bed at about 2 a.m.

That was Wednesday. On Thursday, I woke up early and headed into work, my head full of all I needed to do to prepare for yet another trip. I needed to tell my boss that I would be taking bereavement time and traveling to the funeral. I needed to catch up on work I missed because of the trip to Hawaii.

Instead, I walked into work only to find out that I, my best friend, and about 1/3 of my company were being laid off. I was completely blindsided. I knew, of course, that the economy was awful, but I naively assumed that my job would be safe. I was wrong.

That was Thursday. Today I woke up and wondered what else was going to go wrong. At 11:30 a.m. I found out: a friend from high school called with news about her family and a crisis they are suddenly going through. Somehow I wasn’t surprised to finish off the week with a bang.

So now I am packing my suitcase so Boy and I can get on a plane in the morning and head back to Illinois. There will be a wake on Sunday, and a funeral on Monday – which also just happens to be my birthday.

It all seems so surreal. I’ve never called 911 for a medical emergency before. I’ve never before waited at the end of a driveway, knowing the sirens I could hear from a distance were coming for me. I’ve never before stood in an emergency room and watched a doctor come out to tell me that he’s sorry, but they did everything they could. I’m still having trouble believing it’s all real.

One of the executives at my company on Thursday, after I had gotten the news about my now non-existent job, asked me what I was feeling. I just started laughing and looked at her and said, “I have no idea what I’m feeling!”

That’s still true, to an extent. It’s been a helluva week, and it’s too much to wrap my head around all at once. I think that underneath it all, I’m ok, and I believe that I will be ok. But from here on out, I’m just taking one day at a time until I come out the other side.

I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for one unexpected good surprise, that I get to spend my birthday with them. I’m grateful for my supportive and compassionate friends. I’m grateful for the way LeeLoo wiggles her butt so hard whenever I walk through the door. I’m especially grateful for Boy and for the way that he loves me.

So now I’m going to go be with my family, and remember Nana, and eat some Chicago pizza. The rest of it I’ll deal with when I come back.

Anyway, that was my week. How was yours?

-Lo, breathing in, breathing out.

My friend Monica

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Mood: Sobered | Drinking: Water

monwedding

In the summer of 1994, fresh out of college, I joined 9 other bright-eyed, know-it-all writers in Indianapolis.

We were Pulliam Fellows, part of a prestigious post-graduate journalism fellowship at The Indianapolis Star & The Indianapolis News. For three heady months we busied ourselves with bylines and more than one after-work beer binge in Broad Ripple.

I wrote stories about county fairs and boys with AIDS and even went “undercover” as a hippie for a feature story when the Grateful Dead came to town.

But one of the most memorable and longest-lasting memories of that bright summer came outside of the newsroom and my fellow Fellows. That summer, I met Monica Mertz.

The details of how we met have gone fuzzy, but I believe it had something to do with an ex-boyfriend who also happened to be interning in Indy that summer. The guy wasn’t a keeper, but Monica became a lifelong friend.

What I remember most about those early days is her quick wit, her sudden smile, and how easy it was to feel as if I had known her my entire life. I spent quite a bit of time at her house that summer, and after I moved back to Illinois, she came to visit.

Two years later, I stood up in her wedding to John Pryor. Yes, that’s me on the left up there with the fabulous pointy shoes. (It seems that in 1996 I had yet to discover the wonder of black hair dye.)

I spent a long time searching dusty photo albums last night for a good picture of Monica and I. Apparently we couldn’t be photogenic at the same time, because I have very few photos of the pair of us, and one of us looks wonky in each of them.

I chose this photo not because of my awesome 90s hairdo, but because I remember so much of that long-gone day. The giddy excitement of Monica’s sisters, Natalie & Kimberly. Monica cracking jokes as we all got ready, the smell of hairspray and curling irons everywhere. The calm sureness she had as she walked down the aisle. The way John stared as if there were no other woman in the world.

Monica and John moved to South Carolina to build their lives together, and we didn’t see much of each other for the next few years. In fact, the last time I saw Mon was when she played her gorgeous violin at my own wedding, in the middle of a Chicago blizzard.

We’ve kept in touch through emails and phone calls. So I knew, about a year and a half ago, that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer right after giving birth to her third child.

Even though it was the big “C” word, I wasn’t worried. Monica is one of the strongest people I know. I didn’t think cancer could stop her.

But this Monday, after 18 months of fighting, it did.

I’m not ready to start losing friends. I feel too young for it. I’ve known four other people my age who were diagnosed with cancer, but they survived. I guess I naively expected Monica would, too.

Death seems to be everywhere these days. I just attended a memorial service for the brother of one of my best friends. He was just 45. He, too, died of cancer.

Last year we buried my grandfather, and this Saturday I’m flying to Hawaii with my mom and sister to say goodbye to Nana, my mom’s mother, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and given just a few weeks to live.

The finality of loss is hard to comprehend.

Monica comes from a strongly religious family, and everywhere on her facebook page are messages of hope, people telling her family how much fun Monica is having in heaven right now, pain- and cancer-free.

It’s not that I don’t believe she’s gone to a better place, as they say. I just want to be able to grovel in my grief for a little while. To mourn the sudden absence of that contagious smile, that kindred spirit.

So this is for you, Monica. You are already sorely missed, my friend. My heart is with you today, wherever heaven might be.

-Lo, who feels old and yet not old enough, all at the same time.

Equinox:Vernal

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

equinox

Mood: Quiet
Drinking: Done

Equinox: Vernal

Today a robin
at the edge of the lawn

with stick figure legs
and telltale red breast.
So cockeyed and careful
while trilling the cheerily carol.

The world seems determined
to get back on track
to go on
without him.

The seasons arrive
on schedule.

Hence the bird
with attendant worm
and sudden violet,

all the usual signs of spring
that weren’t there
just yesterday.

Soon the grass
will need cutting.
The earth will
want seeds.
And she can’t move
like she used to.

There was no snow
the day he didn’t wake up.
But

there were no robins
either. Now the ache
wakes with the sun.

And any minute
she expects him to
walk in the door.

But the long days
bring only birds.

(For Ruth. And Vernon.)

-Lo, who wishes he’d walk in the door, too, if that would make her happy.

R.I.P.

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

crematorium
Mood: Disturbed
Drinking: Delinquent

dead men tell no tales
and
the living won’t shut up.

we eulogize with lies.
we fantasize about a happier ending.
about what could have been
if life were lived on film
managed by disney
scripted by ephron
and sponsored by coca-cola.

even as the ashes fly
we cannot speak the truth so
we fall back on fabrications.
history is so easily revised
when we no longer stare death
in the fading blue eyes.

we memorialize a different man
who might have been
but never was.
under the supervision
of this sacred steeple,
we fill in the blanks
we mad lib bullshit.

St. Peter’s unnamed children
Angel wing autopsy saw
Myocardial infarction of the Pearly Gates

the rules of revision require
politeness and pretty words.
defects are pastorally photoshopped.
all evidence of human-ness
is swept into the skeleton closet
to join the cigarettes and heart attacks.

don’t speak ill of the dead
within earshot of the second wife
she’ll send you on your way
with “journeying mercies” and
a backstabbing knife.
(God love ‘em)

we inter all his sins with
what’s left of his bones.
bronze all the stars, leave no grave
undisturbed in our
quest to manufacture
peaceful rest.

all saints are dead.
all dead are saints.
and
the living tell no tales
of imperfect truth.

-Lo, who doesn’t want a whitewashed eulogy.