dwell

Once upon a time
I believed I was lost,
but when I did
what I thought was
get found I saw
I didn’t know what
“lost” meant was missing.
Lost self, thinking
lost soul, soul self
hung and dripping thick
blooded romances like
life was something
to be won over, charmed,
but also carried
and endured and that
was noble and principled
and right and that
was all—and that
I would one day write
lines that would find me
in pictures they painted
because I (thought I) couldn’t.

He told me
I look beat but
he’s the one
with cancer.
I helped him hike up
his falling trousers
after I gave him
a hand up and off
the radiation table
“to retain what dignity
I’ve got left” and
he told me
he demanded
they “microwave” him
till he turns green
and that no one
is worth a shit
but the nurses—the
entire operation
would fall apart
without them.
I met a few
and he’s right. He’s
often right, and usually
almost always
in the way
he means, and he’d
be right to say we’re
not the kind of people
who say “trousers.”

The man who
would always recover,
the big man
large-looming in my life
who can always
make/has always
made it work, and will,
strongheaded and
determined to stem tides
and redirect flows,
brains and braun,
willpower and mind,
he might tell me,
in his terms, the ones
he taught me
gave me,
it’s all a matter
of perspective, he’ll say,
the current, follow
the current, things
happen when they should.

I have a perpetual
headache and more than
several weeks ago one
of his vertebrae collapsed
and is now filled
with some fancy epoxy
you could probably use
to fill cracks
in basement walls while
his bloodstream carries
sneaky destruction and
we hope treatment
treats and he makes
it work. Tears might
well but I need sleep
first—afraid, though,
if I sleep too long
I’ll wake up and forget
where who what
I am and the right
words won’t come,
not even the wrong
ones and I’ll know
again what it is
to be lost, and the
other deeper darker
part of me
says that’s just the
kind of thing I say
when I say
my finding lines
for painting
pictures.

Well picture this:
not quite different yet,
just a little better,
and you’d have me
believe neither, firmly,
you would,
my silent interlocutor,
and for a while there
I did, again thought
maybe it was all a
dream-wish
reality-blur of
the sort I conjure for
reasons unknown but
in order to feel
different, better, greater,
worthy, even, if I
might go that far,
acted-out,
not too poorly, though,
but acted nonetheless,
a sort of same
old sad sideshow
version of the main
lead I’ll never be. A
dull picture, that,
of origins obscure,
always hanging somewhere
behind me.

Then my heartbeat
fluttered again like
it has from time
to time since I
was almost adult
but this time it
didn’t stop so
hospitalization it was—
for both of us,
I thought, appurtenant—
with wires and vitals
and bloodletting and
questions and sonograms
and such till they put
a scope down my
throat to look for
thick blooded clots
that might betray
me—like his blood has,
I thought, romancing—
before they shocked
my heart back
to rhythm and
I think now I’d
call all this being
found, nothing romantic
about it. Nothing but
the love she brought
to carry me through.

Followed in his footsteps,
he said, having endured
the verysame thing
twice, don’t blame you,
he said, it’s always an
adventure. But it wasn’t
adventure I needed,
just visibility,
that’s what, visibility right
in the middle of
a thought, of every
thought, right in
the middle on top
around and through
between among
every thought, every thought
burying me
like leaves piling ever
higher and heavier with
wet and season. I have
a message, I thought
from beneath, adding
to it, breathing
hard, harder. I need out,
need her, need him,
need different, need
better, need a break, need
that picture off
the wall for good
so the mirror
will be clear,
but for a week now
I’ve listened all
too closely to every
lub and dub,
worrying it’d come
back and find me
hiding buried again under
my thick pile of
wet dead leaves piling
up again on too-tired
shoulders tired of holding
and breathing and holding up,
afraid I’d still be
too lost to be
ready to understand
why and how next.

Blood drips less
thickly for now, thinned
as it is. Me and my
quiet desperations, I say,
with a ring to it. Well
they spoke up despite
me, probably because
I’m the softer type,
the spongy type,
needing permission
or an excuse or what
feels like a real
reason to speak
stand up
and wring out
like he would without
hesitation, and that
he did not
give me.
Me and my quiet
desperations. But
a fight he did, and
also release, a deep
breath and a break,  and
I dwell on that.
Yes, things happen
when they should, dad,
and we don’t
lay down waiting
to be found.

6 Comments

    1. Thank you for saying so. I’ve been reading about your recent experiences as well–a little resonance certainly does do some good, and I always appreciate what you do and how. You have my best wishes as always.

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  1. M, I had to look through the tags to be certain I’d comprehended your post unerringly and that it wasn’t pure fiction. There’s nothing like facing the truth of mortality of someone you’ve loved and leaned on all your life. Your piece here simply reminded me how I had thought then I’d be ready and prepared. The long goodbye made me believe the fateful day I kept fearing of would probably be a release to everyone and be an end to all despairs. Of course I was dead wrong. The presumed alleviation wasn’t designed for people like me. But with the love of the right ones that you might have right now, you’d be able to hold up better than I did.

    Although I still have no idea what’s really been going on, I do hope you and your Dad, who has meant a lot to you, are both doing okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and to read me in the first place. This is all I wish for–to share meaning, because in meaning lies hope, I think. I don’t mean this in a religious or philosophical or even particularly spiritual sense, only a basic human sense, pre-construct and pre-analysis–hope and meaning impressed upon us, things felt, for which we may or may not find suitable expression.

      I don’t think I’m designed for that presumed alleviation, either, and you are right as can be that there’s nothing like facing the truth of mortality. I’m glad to say, though, that, for now, my dad and I are both doing ok. Thank you again for your comments and wishes.

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  2. You left no words out or about (I do not know how to respond to this powerful piece, only, maybe, I could quote Yeats, quietly whispering “a terrible beauty is born”). And also: your writings always hits a string, like a hammer in a piano key. Sending love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why thank you, thank you, thank you, for the quote, the compliment, and the love. A wonderful little triumvirate, that, especially considering the source. My very best to you in return.

      Like

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