Sunday, August 05, 2018

Revised poem

What They Found
A container of wrapping tape, three
cookbooks with handwritten notes,
fifteen hardback journals filled
with rhetoric of homespun, volumes
of poetry with sticky notes holding
hands with the pages, dried flowers crumbling
at the touch. In another room, outlines
of an English garden and plans to extend
the back room, replete with French
doors and a deck, boxes of baby
items, each neatly noted, half-worked
crossword puzzles, some with notations
scrawled in the margins regarding the limitations
of language, dental floss on the bedside
table & Kleenex wadded up and scattered
like magnolia blossoms after the storm.
Room by room, they go, these who were left
behind, these who thought they knew.
In the kitchen, this: colorful asides
on the O'Keeffe calendar pages, musings
on the finer qualities of cabernet, Almanac
facts regarding the heat, enigmatic inscriptions
with no apparent relevancy: No phone call
from B , 15 Maybe 20 at the best, trade offs
seldom pay off. This is all that is left
of her life, all that remains of a body
that lived among them, attached to them
like tendrils of wisteria vine, clinging
tightly to the closest storm-proof refuge,
rising and falling above them like no sky
they had ever seen, below them like strange
organisms of the deep they considered
a time or two when pondering the mysteries
of the unknown. Work not done, they enter
a sanctuary, a refuge when they were frightened
in the dark and the straight way was lost,
the room where she held them to her breast
and stroked their small heads as they clung to life,
where she kissed tears and patted the shoulders
of worry when the long, long nights turned longer,
where she curled herself up, fetal position.
There, a lavender pillowcase littered
with fine brown strands, some smeared mascara,
the stains of a mouth-breathing sleeper,
clothes cast off in the night, no longer willing
to be confined or defined, a ceramic cherub-embossed
bowl with trinkets and jewelry, a mother's broken watch,
a dead friend's amethyst necklace, a strand
of Job's Tears beads they never saw her wear,
a class ring with some forgotten sprinter
breaking the tape in a race that mattered
far too much many years ago, a faux Celtic
pendant engraved in runes, a shiny and radiant
lock of auburn hair, clipped in a moment of abandon,
saved for a purpose, for a memory of a time
when cutting a lock meant something.

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