Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting Mother Into Heaven (A Poetry Cycle)

Getting Mother Into Heaven (A Poetry Cycle)
By Suzanne Tevlin

“There’s a thunderstorm
In my head.”
Mother says, lifting
Her transparent hands
To her hair knotted
From days of lying
In pain
And vomit.

Her fingers trembling
The rings jangle like bells
The wrinkled wrap
Of her muscles hanging
In drapes of crepey
Diaphanous skin
Cell-linked stubbornly
For how much longer?

Don’t leave me!
I’ll sing for you
We need to talk

To Mom - Four Days Gone

Oh my dear,
Every night at 9:00
I think of you
As I reach for the phone.
"I know your ring"
You'd say,
Trying to beat me
To the opening line of
Hello My Honey.

I long for your laugh
Your hope
Your delight in
All things silly and bright
And your pride
And need
Of me

The flowers I chose for thee 
All day long
The day before
Were white, and blue and wild and kempt.
I found golden rod,
And Queen Anne’s Lace
Flowering Rosemary
And red choke-berry vine
(in my back yard – which is a tiff).

The roses and such,
Emerged pale and sylphlike
From a field of snowy-white.
Do you remember the hydrangeas?
(We called them snowballs.
You kept them at the foot of the stairs.)
Or the goldenrod from Brown's field?
And the Queen Anne's Lace along the railroad tracks?
Though these I bought at city prices.
No country discounts pour moi.

Stopped them from 
Being placed on the altar
To bring you joy and hope
and everlasting peace.

Placed them to the side
Like cast offs,
Though loved by you
And me.

I went to Notre Dame to light a candle.

Perhaps a baby priest
Listened to my story,
“Allez-y Madame.” whispered he,
Mes sincères condoléances.”
I slipped in the back door.
Arriving at the Vierge de Notre Dame
I wept.

A Japanese tourist.
Took my picture.
Tears streaming down my neck.
Then pushing me aside,
They focused on the candle
I had lit for thee.
And me.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
Taking their fiery stubborn stance
Atop their hand picked prisons
Columns of antiquated marble
Or thrones bricked round in stone.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
Shaking their fists at their faithless god.
Shouting their love
In defiance of the slights.
Waiting for their private miracle.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
In Byzantium of lore,
They shivered and shook in ecstasy.
Their manna dropped at their dirtied feet,
By soaring ravens dark with rage.
Still waiting for their private miracle.

Anchorites have always fascinated me.
Since I was young.
So I'll go see Christ in The Desert.
No kneeling wailing me.
But accepting the sights as gifts,
I’ll sit and contemplate the mountains there.
And wait for my private miracle.

Note: Christ in The Desert is a tiny abbey run by a few monks near Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Georgia O'Keeffe's old home. 

6:17am, November 19, 2014

The furnace purrs.
The dawn slips up my window pane.
The arctic vortex has arrived.
Another winter’s freeze ahead.

Is that the word?
Looms. Freezing forward
Surrounding my heart.
No sandwiches crunchy with frost.

Our chilly fingers.
Our jokes so deeply bad.

The snow flakes fall.
Wait. You farted.
The crisp frigid virginal air
Cracks with noxious gas.

Laughter almost knocks us over.

We’ll go in then?
Yes, we’ll have a lie down.
We’ll read the paper.
We’ll hang out.

Brrrrr….it’s cold.

The scent of burning
Dust to dust.
Souls fleet of foot
Dash in circles through
Arches dark with soot.

Flames deep red
A cadmium of blood
Sizzling within
The giant stone clad oven.

The quick rush of
Air exhaled
By bodies beautified
With plastic clays
To view for moments only.

The hair is different
Dead cells linked
One to t’other, but
Witchy in its silver finery.

The spirit darts past.
Touching cheek gingerly.
Trying not to howl
“I am gone, but where?
Don’t leave me dear.”

The triple headed 
Hound of nightmares
Cerberus, stands drooling,
(I can almost taste the putrid reak of his foul breath)
Snarling, spitting, at the portal of death.

No, wait!
It's Emma girl and Nellie
Yelping in joy,
Licking my darling's hand,
Come to protect their dear old friend
And lead her from the darkness 
Up the road to light.