My walls are enough. Put down the pictures.
My laugh is enough. Turn off the movie.
My child is perfect. Look away from the others.
My life is mine. Turn my eyes inward. Spend time attending to the dishes and the laundry. Clean the acorns off the driveway.
Plants thrive when spoken to. So too inner peace. Spend time being in my life, molding it, spinning on a potter’s wheel, wet clay in my hands.
Make the beds and sweep the floors. If a storm comes, I’ll be ready.
Maybe it was David Bowie or Alan Rickman or my friend’s beloved dad. Or maybe my forty-year-old brain is just beginning to grasp those words I’ve been hearing for years. Words I thought I understood—but now that I do understand them, realize I never before have.
Today is my life. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. And it doesn’t matter if I get all the things done I want to accomplish, or “become” the person I want to be. It doesn’t matter if I say sorry to the people I should apologize to, or forgive those who need forgiving.
My death will come sometime, unplanned. In a moment, my life will be over and I will be gone. I can’t plan it, can’t foresee it. It doesn’t live by my calendar. Death does not abide by my rules. The names I keep seeing in the news begin to cut deeper and deeper, as celebrities I’ve grown up with and lived as an adult on this planet with, begin to get off the bus. Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Corey Haim. I want to say to them—“Wait, the ride’s not over, why are you getting off here? We’re not done yet.” But they are done. That was their story.
People I partied with when I was younger are getting cancer. One had his cigarette-ruined front teeth pulled out and replaced with white, plastic ones. Double mastectomies. Friends on their second husbands. My mother is having cataracts removed on Monday, and my father now eats foods with a low glycemic index. My sister’s three kids spend weekends at their dad’s. I think of myself as the twenty-year-old girl who packed up her Corolla and drove to Colorado one summer day at 90 miles per hour with her left foot sticking out the window. Who rented a hotel room by herself for the first time somewhere in Nebraska and sat out back on the train tracks smoking a cigarette and anticipating the rest of her life.
It goes so fast. I’ll miss you folks I’ve been sharing the planet with. It’s scary to keep driving on ahead without you. I was so used to you being here.
The scapula articulates with the humerus at the glenoid cavity,
but how does a hand feels when it’s dying?
Does a voice crying out with a new diagnosis
than the panicky cow who
learns his fate
at the top of the chute?
The science of worms and mushrooms
dust we return and
dust we begin.
Stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum.
Nervous, relieved, resentful, afraid.
My classroom is orderly
The hospital halls are well-lit.
Brimming with data,
I assume my role in the world’s darkest mystery.
The blood of someone’s grandfather
spurts into the air
Old faithfully one, two, three times
toward the ceiling
the force of a beating heart
just inches below it.
The surgeon is younger than me
wearing old fashioned jewelers lenses
and a blue paper mask.
Someone’s sister exhales and
a brother straightens his back
when the fountain finally stops.
The patch is made of cow’s skin
no bigger than a dime
The plaque rolls around in a tin cup
a yellowy plug, clanging
Someone’s grandfather has white hair
I saw it before they turned on the gas
and covered up every part of his body but his neck
Someone’s husband runs to get the right machine
to see the new blood flow
Is it staying in the lines?