Thursday, August 16, 2007

PT: Better Late?


wanting to be hidden,
I wait for the old woman in the bed

half-dead already, though not yet through
with dying, to quiet.
All along the window ledge
dead brown leaves blown across
the yard by a cold wet wind
grip against the glass with clarity
and precision of vein and broken edges.

She used to cry all the time
now she only whimpers and asks
with a voice that grasps like hands,
Are the holidays here?
Not yet, I say. That seems to satisfy
I do not know
and a voice in me wishes her away
or myself gone from this place
I am afraid
seeing myself in this white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers.

On Christmas Day the sky clears
and the splash of wind against water
sprawls ice and sighs on sidewalks and doorsteps
the boy brings the paper
which has, beside a picture of African
and American travelers getting out of their
vehicle at Nkongsambe, West Cameroon
a picture of the Branchini Madonna
in a gown of acorns and oak leaves
in punched gold, an altarpiece in gold
brocade most perfectly preserved
and rare
She holds the standing Christ Child
in her arms, the two of them
upheld by seraphim
white doves, cornflowers and marigolds.

The glass glitters with frost
and the air is filled with smoke
Meanwhile, not enticed by such glories
as frost on glass, fragrance of smoke
nor Madonnas
she stirs, waits for the light to go
for the thudding of her heart to stop
for the frock-coated whispered gathering
and I am afraid
seeing myself in the white-lacquered bed
grasping toward strangers

(A true story)

The Branchini Madonna, painted in 1427 by Italian artist Giovanni di Paolo. -- It's clickable!



Norma said...

This is an amazing piece. You've really captured the moment.

maureen said...

beautiful writing. i have missed reading your poetry ... being gone half the summer and the other half way too busy with work. the design biz will slow down as fall fills in, i hope i can come back and re-read your last 3 or 4 months of poems. I truly love your style, my dear.

Tammy said...

You are truly inspiring as a poet. That meteor shot was fantastic too. ;)

wendy said...

The altar pc is unbelievable..the dove of the holy spirit..the was mary grasps the chists if helping to see his home more clearly. and he is looking only at her.

Only a strong woman, such as you are, could stand and bear witness to it all.

A friend?

pepektheassassin said...

A friend? Of course! And thanks to everyone for their kind words.

Rob Kistner said...

Well written! I was moved.

I have been at four deathbeds in my life, during the final deathwatch of people close to me. Fear, anxiety, awe, anger, relief, sorrow, desperation, peace -- these were among the strange threads of emotion that wove through my being each time. Each was a frustrating and exhausting experience -- yet each made me feel more human, more humble, and more grateful for the frail and fleeting gift that is this life.

turquoise cro said...

I have been there too, at 3 men's deathbeds, and my baby's at 3 months miscarried! Uncle Willie, Uncle Fay and my dear father-in-law, Dominick. One was at a nursing home and 3 were in the hospital. One, astonishing even me!I called him by name and he did come back, long enough for his daughter to get there! I was just reading about Mary and what JOY she has generated around the world, even Elizabeth's baby, John leapt in JOY! while yet in the womb at just the sound of Mary's voice!

chiefbiscuit said...

Breathtaking. There's something so complete about this poem.