Rivers and Funerals

 

The world tilts far enough now

Where summer is almost a secret,

And lifetimes can easily pass in the still air.

.

During our walks, then,

Over brilliant orange, gold and new sky,

Her sadness came to be:

Neatly placed

Into the yielding grasp

Of a freshly fallen maple leaf.

Then, sealed into a shiny blue envelope:

Scribbled on,

When short notes were a thing

Of long Sunday afternoons.

.

Moving water is still great at counting time now,

And will soon lap at the stone steps

Of a clapboard church out there,

Hosting the wailing choirs

Of straggled people turned sane again.

Turning, Part III.

I need to give a shout here to Joan Didion for the way she did it. 

When the Afternoon Holds Just Enough

Life and dying,

Should be familiar

In the narrow, empty spaces

Hiding,

In the confusing mass of briars,

And dried or mildewed berries:

Take your pick,

While the shadowed visitors of place

Sneak back home.

.

Somewhere, crosses a stretch ,

When memories,

Stretch further

Than the longness of stories

Our present circumstances

Polished in Elaboration.

.

The corner of life is turned

In some broad sweeping arc

Penciled in years,

And hidden in a dozen tin cans

Buried in the yard

Over a period of irregular years.

.

The day’s path gives a ride

A good long while,

Moving, really moving along.

The time, like the knob of some old radio,

Cranking slowly one way,

At once fading and boisterous.

.

Nobody talks about this stuff,

Like politics and newcomers,

Poking,

Unless we can all turn askew,

Upwards. All of us.

‘Cause we all see it our own crooked ways.

And one more:

Don’t fall for the witching hour,

Telling you, this moment:

Some speck of time,

that could turn the day.

No. Don’t.

Just watch this time,

like it was back then.

Turning, Pt III (draft)

The afternoon holds just enough

Life and dying,

To be familiar

In the narrow, empty spaces

That keep to themselves

In a confusing mass of briars,

And dried or mildewed berries:

Take your pick.

While the shadowed visitors of place

Return home.

.

The day’s path gives a ride

Good sojourns,

Moving, really moving along.

And this time:

Like the knob of some old radio,

Cranked slowly one way,

Boisterous and fading

Again and again.

.

Nobody talks about this stuff,

Making for poor politics.

None, really.

Unless we can all turn askew,

Upwards. All of us.

.

‘Cause we all see it our own crooked ways.

.

And one more:

Don’t fall for the witching hour,

Telling you, this moment:

Some speck of time,

that could turn the day.

No. Don’t.

Just watch this time,

like it was back then.

Unwritten Notes

And those we wish we had written.

.

After 42 days, look for a change in the weather,

Subtle,

Maybe just the light, for a moment,

Or a shuttered day in clouds.

Regardless, someone’s head will turn,

Like catching a whiff of silence

Almost. Another curious pause,

In a rarely checked routine.

.

On that day, I should be drawn back in:

tempted by the familiar,

Sinking back into the reflection,

Or falling to the side,

In difference.

.

Just leave me some thread,

Or mark, to orient,

And resume. I’ll finish this poem,

And the others too.

Remind me!

When the wind turns,

And a quiet spell might linger.

Three poems from bystanders on a late afternoon

Set the horizon just above the bones

There.

Lying deep in chill

Layered in soiled mantles,

The spring grass waits

In the churn of hope

And the customs that years tend to build.

Like promises from old friends:

Taken easily,

without haste,

And carried through the field.

.

Mind this vista well.

Explore the escapes of hills

And secret creeks,

Long walks during the bright times,

Wanderings during foggy mornings,

And the staggering stupors

Of the dying weeks.

.

Lean back,

Eyes closed,

Stars above,

Feet below.

Breathe the air,

Sparkling now,

Shimmering,

In evening’s soft glow.

.

Dealing with the loss of a family member

Last week, my stepfather passed away unexpectedly.  My mom is a wreck.  The grieving is compounded by a long standing financial quagmire, her mediocre health and the daunting propect of all those things that just need to be done day in and day out.  I am grateful I was able to “drop everything” and travel to the midwest to be here. 

Death is daunting not only for the profound loss it suddenly imposes on a routine established over many years of living together, but also for the day-to-day logistics of life. Who pays the bills?  Or, for that matter, what bills get paid?  Who do you call to inform them that someone has died?  What if you were dependent on the deceased person’s income?  How do you figure that out?  Do I need to hire an attorney?  Do we need to relocate the surviving spouse to a more convenient living situation?

I write this not so much to say what I’m going through but so you might ask the questions prior to the loss of a family member.  I suspect most of us who step in to “run the house” for awhile are ill prepared to do so.  At this point, I have no solid advice, or do’s and dont’s.  What I can say is this: talk to those close to you while they are still alive.  Try and walk through the scenario of their death.  Ask yourself if you know what you would do in the hours, days, weeks and months following their death.  

Imagine one of those lazy Saturday mornings where you’re wondering what you might want to do for fun over the weekend.  The phone rings and you see it’s mom calling and you think how its been a little while since you’ve talked to mom.  With that first hello, your life takes an unexpected turn down a road you may never have traveled.