Wednesday, August 29, 2012

As Her Body Failed \ Catching Water In A Net

Alan:  My mother’s last months were hard.  Moved to the nursing unit, she showed increasing signs of dementia – “sundowning,” as we learned to call it.  Yet, even as her nights became paranoiac phantasmagorias, when day returned so did a measure of her characteristic common sense.

As Her Body Failed

As her body failed
her hearing grew sharper.
Always good, it now detected
signs of another, distressing
tapping maliciously
on the panes
of our own.

She could hear her name
whispered conspiratorially
by nurses
up the hall,
but when we’d check
there’d be nobody,
or just the meds lady
bending over
clipboard and cart.

“They were there again last night,
shouting!”  “Who?”
“The inspectors,” or,
“Those union organizers.”
“They’re going to close this place.”
“They’re planning a strike.”
So much commotion
on the graveyard shift!

Wild parties erupted
in the darkness below her.
“Dancing again, and so late!”
I thought of the yawning
common-room and the
empty, muffled
midnight halls.

It was hard
to picture her in her
narrow, alarmed bed,
dreaming badly,
hardly daring to roll over,
waiting to be tossed
out on her ear
or trampled by a crisp-fronted,
turn-coat mob.

She asked me once
why no one believed her.
I mumbled something
about each subjective state
having its own world somewhere.
She told me I should take
more time off from my job.

The last time we spoke
she was downtown
with pneumonia.
I thought she might hint
of that chariot a-comin’
or the approaching pulse
of mighty wings,

but all she said was,
“I’m eating my custard,”
so I just said,
“I’ll call again soon.”

Nancy:  Twigs and branches tangled together are enough to slow the rush of tide and storm.  The water brought with it silt and seeds and a mulch of marsh grass which settled out of the quieted waters. Now what was a raw gash in the bank is a thicket of shrub and healthy  vegetation.  What a relief not to feel like the lane is teetering on the edge of disaster.

Catching Water In A Net

Every year the sea bites deeper,
and roots fail, and clay fractures,
and nothing holds until I think
of the slash, branches slender
as my wrist: intricate, complex.

And I think of the Tao,
and the way of the sea itself,
and how we pit against it walls,
which crumble, and posts that fall
on the tide: imperious, awash.

To save the road, this: philosophy,
and sweat, to haul the brush, to trust
its yielding strength
to give the sea its due:
to catch the water in a net.

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