Archive for November, 2010

Love In The Time Of The Dinosaurs

November 19, 2010


Extinction was a foregone conclusion

But the climate engendered passion –
lava glow burnished scales
dollops of tropical mist girdled volcanic hips
the drenched scents of magnolia
and resinous dawn redwood
beguiled our sulfur scorched tongues

Paleontologists misread our tracks
of mud made rock –
theirs a story of predator and prey
ours a more tender pursuit

No sheaths for our weapons –
my scimitar claws
your javelin tale spikes –
heeding old scars
we approached love with care

Then licked and roared
writhed and thrashed
swooned and slept –
our blood pulsed hot as any mammal

But a random chunk
of universe decided
we were in its path

Anyway they got the diorama all wrong
the articulation was too stiff  –
muscles slithered over bone
and there was never a freeze-frame moment –
we saurians were designed
to discover each other in motion

And the asteroid took its time

Oh yes – we did rock the earth
the Cretaceous tenants downstairs
even complained of the thunder

Then the red snarl punctured the sky

Upon impact you vaporized
but I evolved –
a birdlike thing now with hollow bones
and feathers fossilized
in flight

11 – 9 – 10


Rejecting the Goddess Within

November 2, 2010


When did this happen?
Now, we can upgrade from “woman”
to  the “goddess” option
in the eventuality
that, as women, we don’t feel sufficiently …

eternally jealous?
randomly vengeful?

I’m not sure I welcome this new panoply of features
since it took so long
to become proficient in woman 3.0

not sure I could settle on a summary icon –
the giant clamshell has been taken
all the archery bows in gym were right-handed  – and
pomegranates for abducted daughters don’t grow in this climate

the glossy magazine shows lips outlined in black
filled in with ruby – a crayon coloring book goddess  – and

I think the female deity industry
advertises an implied association with day spas
and pedicures and pampering  – and

possibly realigning skewed chakras  – and
navigating quasi-spiritual labyrinths
hair extensions and cloying aromatherapy  – and

an excess of shimmery
petroleum derived fabric – artfully draped –
spanning cleavage  – and
super-sized handbags from which the hardware
alone could armor Mars for all eternity  – and

speak of the dudes
I hear the godsthesedays are too
busy browsing virtual
carousing dryads on the web
to bother with real olympian orgies

unh, unh – I’ve been a woman too long
bore two humans, nursed them from my own two breasts
wedged a pillow under my hips for
optimal …
well – a real woman –
I didn’t have to change into an ox or an umbrella stand  – and
I suspect, gifted with human nature,
I am the woman
a goddess would aspire to be

*Mural by John Singer Sargent, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Hospice 17

November 2, 2010


1 – The Penultimate Stay-cation
My mother-in-law is admitted to CT Hospice in May.
I visit her almost every day for the next 110 days

2 – Going up
The elevator floor mat is changed daily.
Today is Tuesday so the mat reads “TUESDAY”
I have an uneasy feeling about the reason for this.

3 – Comfort in Magnified Significance of Detail
The coffee carafe in the lobby has better coffee
than the nursing station, which is stale Maxwell House.
But the coffee in the lobby is served with ersatz half and half,
So, I bring the coffee from downstairs – upstairs,
and steal the real milk
out of the nursing station fridge.

4 – Orange Oil Spray Does Not Mask it
The room always smells like pee – not the baby diaper kind
more like the wino derelict  on the makeshift cardboard mattress
in the train station kind.

5 – Alternate Route
I figured out how to take the stairs in the administrative wing
because the days of the week mats
are making me feel a little bit claustrophobic.

6 -The Sloop John B
The patient in bed one believes that the lounge chair
in which she is propped up,
at the window facing Long Island Sound, is a boat.
“Tell the Captain to turn this thing around NOW” she wails,
“I’ve had enough of this damned cruise!”

7 – Evacuation Plan
“What happens if the hurricane hits here?”  The young nurse whispers.
“Oh, nobody told you about the evacuation plan?”
The nurse who smokes out by the dumpsters rasps.
“We borrow the ambulance buses from the rehabilitation center
and transport all the patients there in shifts”
but, she shrugs,
“We’ve never actually had to do this yet.”

8 -The Great Escape Phenomenon
I notice that a day or two before they die –
whether senile, heavily medicated, comatose or alert –
almost every patient does the same thing –
They make an exerted effort to rise up from the bed.
I think they are attempting to flee their own deaths.

9 – Musical Beds Meds
My husband gets a call at work.
“Oh we’re so sorry to have to tell you this ..”
He thinks “this is it!”, but no.
Apparently the night nurse dosed his mother
with the anti-diharreal medicine
meant for the patient in bed next to hers.
To counteract this error, they give her a laxative.
They refer to this as “palliative care”.

10  –  No Comprende
Doctors, nurses, social workers, art therapists,
music therapists, and non-specialist volunteers,
who, as far as I can tell mostly refresh water pitchers,
all speak the same language I think of as “euphemistics”.
(Chaplains are the hands-down winners
of this linguistic pablum.)
No one is “dying”, but rather
“on a journey” or “making a departure”
or “moving toward a spiritual destination”
A kind of Grand Central Terminal of the Soul,
the emphasis, of course,  on “terminal”.

11 – That’s Entertainment
A mezzo-soprano is performing patriotic tunes
in the visitors lounge.
She punctures the upper range of the rocket’s red glare.
I cant remember – is today a holiday?

12 – Three Dimensional Angst
After three months of lying on her back
my mother-in-law is hoisted into a chair
by an overly conscientious nurse
who uses a crane with chains
specifically designed for this purpose –
though it looks to the untrained eye
like an instrument of torture.
Thelma  is obviously frightened
by the 90 degree shift perspective.
She keeps raising her hands in front of her
in an attempt to gauge her spacial orientation.

13 -Strange Bedfellows
The latest “bed three” patient is sleeping with a stuffed leprechaun.
I hope to be spared a similar indignity if I end up here,
and work myself into anxiety spiral
imagining all the permutations that might involve.

14 – As She Waited by the Billy-Bong
One of the questions I never thought to ask
my mother-in-law before dementia set in
was why she and her husband chose “Waltzing Matilda”
as their theme song.
Nevertheless, I sing it to her
along with “Over the Rainbow”
and “Beautiful Dreamer”.
Though she rarely opens her eyes,
and has given up any voluntary movement
beyond opening her mouth for broth,
twice she takes my hand into her two hands
and kisses it after I sing to her.
The first time I think I imagined it.

15 – Any Last Requests?
I might imagine a lavish five course feast
If I were about to be executed,
but I have different expectations
if I end up here.
Mostly they get lemon ice
or food service grade vanilla dixie cups.
I hope my family smuggles in
a small plastic snack pack
of chocolate pudding
like the four daughters of the woman in bed two.

16 – Simple Arithmetic
There are three other beds in the room where
my mother-in-law spends three and a half months dying.
I read that the average stay in CT Hospice is 6 days.
No bed is ever empty for a whole day.
That means, by my calculations, I am done,
at least statistically, watching people die for awhile.

17 -The Last Sound
Beside that star spangled soprano,
I hope the last sound I hear in life is just about
anything but the ball-bearing click of hospital curtains
sliding closed.