the day she died

Before I entered her room,
I had been kindly warned
to prepare for the worst.
I wasn’t sure what that meant
or how to heed such words,
so I stumbled to my father first
and took him in my arms.

In the event, it didn’t matter—
my mother’s eyes were closed
with so much medication
coursing through her veins
to dull the enveloping pains
that sleep was the only thing
her failing body could manage.

Once or twice that long day
her heavy lids slowly rose
yet quickly lowered again
her mind cognizant of nothing
her once eager voice silenced
her pale flesh sinking steadily
into the coldly wrinkled sheets.

For hours we spoke beside her
as if somehow she could hear,
and I prayed in my heart that
she might speak to me once more,
but all I heard as darkness fell
was her harshly rasping breath
and the lengthening pauses between.

Although I had indeed been warned
to prepare for the worst that day,
I know now with painful certainty
that the worst was not that moment
seeing her cancered body dying there,
but rather thinking of all the days,
the years that had quietly passed

while we had been apart.

My mum, Dora Mae Stewart, with my father George near Monterey, California (May 2006)

holding on

there is such decay
in this aging flesh
such pain clawing
through these limbs
gnawing at the fibers
of transient being

and yet we hold on
grasping at perpetuity
while gasping our last
precious promise
of certain intransigence
and desperate need

we seize at vitality
angrily breathing needles
piercing our veins
with chemical inducement
and medical murmurs
moistened with tears

with trembling limbs
we prostate ourselves
before imperceptible deities
touching coldest stones
with sweaty hands as
generations of ghosts

have done before


i remember how you danced
how your smile circled the room
brightly whirling like a lovely wisp
lit against the envious darkness
held against the shivering cold
oh how you danced, dear Sibel
with a lithe laughter that denied
the mortality that slowly angrily
consumed the simple shell of you
freely enhancing the dancing
spirit of you to bless the ground
you so eagerly floated above
rising higher and ever higher
to entrance the fairies themselves
with the vibrant vernal life and
the ever cascading light of you
of this always dearly loved you
this you illuminated now
and forever more

Salt Lake City 26 Nov 2012