FUNERAL CLOTHES

Mom and Dad, around 1952

Mom and Dad, around 1952

When the cancer had eaten its fill,
Little was left of Dad.
He was diminished
Figuratively
Literally
And oh, he had been handsome
Just ask Mom
She recalled wistfully his dark hair
And fine looks vaguely reminiscent of Elvis
A real catch
To me, he was ruddy and practical
Middle aged paunch and square glasses
But the disease made us both liars
He was shrunken
Sallow
Hollow

I was fourteen, the years in my life
Equal to the months in his death
I was fourteen, primed for my moment
In the spotlight of adolescence
But really of little use or effect
In our current circumstance
Which was dire
My brothers were older
Practically men
I couldn’t drive to hospital visits
Or take on part time work
Fourteen was a nuisance who still needed tending
Who couldn’t be trusted
Or leaned upon
Trivial
Futile

When the end could not be postponed
There arose the matter of clothes
My brothers were excused
Because they could drive
Because they could work
Practically men
So this was my job
After all, what fourteen-year-old girl
Doesn’t like to shop
For clothes?
We spoke in a secret language:
Easter is coming, said Mom
And Dad needs a new suit
She knew the code
The clerk knew
I knew

I sat on a stool in the corner
Watching the arrayal
Knowing the casket was ready
Masculine
Oaken
A drape of ivory satin
A touch of dogwood carving
Our clerk was equal to the task
Offered up tweeds, checks, herringbones
Double breasted and single
How do I look? asked Dad
So I pictured him dressed and
Resting against that satin pillow
Forever after
In charcoal
Or navy

When the suit had been procured
Wine-colored and plaid
It was the 1970’s
Discord
Disco
Just ask anyone
We turned our attention to dresses
From the only posh shop in our rural town
A real treat
This time there was no secret code
After all, what would be the point?
We’d grown tired of pretending
And asked for something funereal
The sales girl was honored
Dignified
Earnest

You might wear this outfit again
She suggested helpfully
And oh, I scoffed
Doubtful
Incredulous
What woman would wear again a dress
That had seen her husband sent to the life beyond?
We would burn them
Mom’s sedate black and white-jacketed ensemble
With mine of light blue and green
Burn and bury the memories
Salt the earth afterward
But of course we didn’t
There would be no fire
No liturgy
No rite

When those days had passed into the past
Little was left to say
We were exhausted
Wasted
Weary
And needed to move ahead
As survivors must
The funeral clothes occupied awkward space
Between artifact and awful reminder
My brothers, who had simply called on existing garments
Lost their leisure suits to merciful obsolescence|
Mom’s widow costume reverently wrapped in white tissue
Put away, neither seen nor forgotten
My blue and green frock donated to charity
But there is plaid
In Heaven

~lisa
6/10/2013

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LIMERICK: PENNSYLVANIA

Crossing The Road

PENNSYLVANIA

Along Interstate 80 stood Bambi,
Concentration–at best–namby pamby.
At the wake later, Crow
Paid respects to his bro:
Said, “At least you taste better than spam, B!”

~lisa

HE REMAINED STEADFAST

Bleeding Hearts 2

He found her crumpled and discarded
Just waiting
As though for a strong gust
To sweep her away
Or for a lighted match
To consume her

 He found her curious and compelling
And perfect
As if constructed from
His own missing parts
Or bits of brightly colored
Broken glass

 She was dissonance and eloquence
Surrounded by crimson velvet cords
And flashing yellow lights
Yet he reached out one wishful hand
Until, fiercely, she withdrew
A frightened anemone

 Too soon the words formed in his mouth
And would not remain hidden from her ear
She swatted at the syllables, though he longed
To capture them like fireflies in a jar
To marvel at how they sparkled:
    —I care for you.

 She wept:  “I’m damaged. I’m incomplete.
What do you want from me?”
   —I’ll take what I can get.
She dared:  “You’ll take what I give you!”
   –Whatever you give me– I’ll take it.
A promise was made

 He kept his eyes down and his hours busy
Just smiling
At how the sidewalk cracks
Led straight to her door
And how his morning coffee
Was dark like her voice

She trembled; he dreamed of the time she would
Tremble around him
So mercurial; she was silvery slick
And always changing
But true to his promise
He remained steadfast

Through days that pulsed with her heartbeat
And nights haunted by her ghosts
He breathed it all in
Watched her eyes for angels
Until there in the tickling grass
She rested her head on his shoulder

~lisa
6/6/2013

OBESTIALITY – a poem about being fat

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

Such a conundrum.
Such a pretty face.
Such character, such charm;
But oh,  such a shame.

A figure defined
In figures of speech:
Big as a house,
Looks like a cow.

The lady adjacent
Conceals her eyes
But not her disgust,
Afraid of contagion,

As though my rounded knee
Might infect her muscled one
As though I’m a virus,
As though I’m a disease.

I offend by requiring
More space than I’m allowed,
More space than I deserve,
And offer recompense

With a blitheness of spirit,
A lightness of humor,
A hope to sow comfort
Where judgment might take root.

Faced with a mirror
I conceal my eyes
But not my sadness,
Afraid I’m lost forever–

A fragile heart pumping
Deep inside a flesh cocoon;
Protection and rejection
In layers spread with loathing.

Just do it, I tell myself,
As though it were just that easy,
As the woman entombed within
Begs not to be forgotten.

Such a puzzlement.
Such perplexity.
Such a pleasant girl,
But still, such a waste.

~lisa

THE BEAUTY OF THE BEAST (encore post)

Animal Collage by Kinspirit

Animal Collage by Kinspirit

 

I am a zookeeper.

A menagerie of my own making lives beneath my skin.

Years have tamed the mustang,

Transformed her into a brood mare

And finally a workhorse.

I am both cougar and kitten.

I am a chameleon,

Alternately foxy

Crabby

Mousey

Cocky

Bullish

And such a jackass.

This soul has known puppy love,

Unleashed the hell hounds,

And learned to let sleeping dogs lie.

A big fish in a little pond,

A paper tiger,

But never a wolf in sheep’s clothing,

I am both lamb gentle and mule stubborn.

Finally: a beastly beauty.

~lisa

DAUGHTER

Mother_and_Child_III_by_Lover0fNightmares

roseShe came with August’s marigold sun,
Serenaded by the carousel,
And candied-apple sweet.

She was doe-eyes and hush-a-byes,
Wrapped in angel’s wings,
And party-dress pink.

Joyously the red birds sang:
“What, what-cheer! She’s-here-here-here!”
Proudly the Nemean roared!

What kismet, karma, or will  divine
Designed such bountiful treasure
With hope to make me whole?

So I named her pure and musical,
Breathed in her abundant promise,
Vowed to be deserving.

She was magic; she was enchantment,
And she held my swelling heart in the palm
Of her tiny hand.

~lisa

CONCEALED WEAPON

cracked_face_by_theicon92-d3i0po8

How do you conjure sleep to your bed?
Do you justify?  Do you rationalize?
What will hush the cricket on your shoulder?
Will you cross your heart and hope to die?
Step carefully, now; there’s rubble everywhere
In this disaster of a world we’ve created
My good intentions, your misperceptions
Shards beneath our bare and bloodied feet

God knows there’s bitterness to share
I keep a bowlful at the table to flavor my coffee
Those scenes replay as an endless loop
Until the words echo with the pounding of my heart
I pump each vivid detail through my veins
Then feel them crawl like spiders beneath my flesh
Tell me you’ve held the poison in your mouth, too
That your tongue is cracked from the taste of guilt

We sat at cross corners, avoiding each other’s eyes
You concealed the weapon as I dumbly spat out bullets
Who knew your aim was truer than your intention?
Now I’m unraveling faster than I can knit
Bleeding out and reaching out and crying out
While you look for shapes in the clouds
And brush away my words like specks of ash
It’s funny; I never took you for a bastard

Gently, snow falls and numbs the earth
Mesmerizing, anesthetizing, sanitizing
Hush now, it says, and rest quietly for a while
With a turn of the hourglass all will be renewed
In my dreams I lie naked in the drifting whiteness
Lulled into a cool and tranquil hibernation
Until I awaken at some yet unnamed time
A gladdened soul in a gladdened world

A world where you and I have never met

~lisa