The Fold

I’m so honored to have this poem published in Third Wednesday near one by Ted Kooser. Fine company indeed! This poem is also included in my poetry collection I lost summer somewhere.

The Fold

          “The corners of death fold us into ourselves”
– Loretta Diane Walker

Mother and I are sniping. This visit
has been that way. The farm is rundown
as she is now at 94, bent over her walker,
bare-knuckled in her independence.
She says I mumble. I say she never listens.
We know this game. I’m packing to go home,
and she calls, “Do you want breakfast?”
I mutter yes, knowing she won’t hear.
It starts again.

I’m her favorite and visit least. I’ll look back
on this weekend, feel guilt. She will win
another round. This time when we hug goodbye,
there are no tears. As I drive away I glance
back to make sure she’s in the doorway,
watching.

Sarah Russell
First published in Third Wednesday
Painting by Mark Tinsdale

 

The Dying of the Light

My friend Steve Deutsch has a fine new poem in Borfski Press Magazine.  Please visit his blog and leave comments for him there.

We found my mother
on the third floor
of a hospital
that should have been shuttered
in the 80’s.
The lights were dim
and the walls and halls
so covered in filth
it seemed they
had absorbed the misery
of the past 30 years
and the anguish would no longer
wash away.

It wasn’t hard to find mom.
She screamed “Help me”
every couple of minutes.
We heard her from the elevator
above the endless beeping
and the garbled sounds
from the PA system.
The fact that we
were now with her
did not alleviate her need to scream.
Nor did reasoning.

She had fallen again
and broken her tailbone.
She was 95 and failing
and I was the good son—
the one who answered the call
at 2 AM,
booked the 1000 mile trips
and tried to find a place
where she could end her days
in comfort.
It was rewarding in an exhausting way.
Finding, unexpectedly,
I was the one to be counted on.

But, listen,
there is just so much
we can do for one another.
There are limits to prerogatives
of blood.
We practice love,
not magic
and when,
in a moment of lucidity
she stared at my face—
a face she had known
my whole life,
and said,
“I’m dying,”
“Save me.”
I was again
as helpless
as the infant
she had held
to her breast.

– Steven Deutsch
First published in Borfski Press Magazine 
Photo source

Swallow Child

I had no mother,
no tribe. Swallows
heard me crying.

They gave me flight,
to feel the wind,
to find my spirit.

They gave me a mate
to birth our young
in ancient cliffs.

They gave me companions
for warmth
in winter’s cold.

Someday I will rise to the sun.
My feathers will gleam iridescent.
My home will be in cloud cliffs.
I will look down on Earth’s chaos
where my mother disappeared.
I will no longer miss her.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Ekphrastic Review
Based on a painting by Benjamin Chee Chee,
a Native American artist
For Poets United theme “Rising Up”