Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Poetry of death - 2

Last Dance

"You’d better start discussing
end-of-life issues."
The doctor said this in April
just days after my mother’s 92nd birthday.
Her deafness kept her from hearing.
Later in the car she asked,
"What did she say?
I want to know everything."

Her shock still shows
in pictures of my birthday party in May –
preoccupied, betrayed eyes
strained smile in a pale face.
When I, fearful she was getting depressed
and not willing to let her go myself
said to her often in those first last days,
"You could be healed.
God can do such a thing –
heal a person in an instant.
I will never stop praying that for you,"
she was silent.

She railed against her growing helplessness,
weakness, "I can’t go on like this.
I hate to be a burden."
I took her a book on heaven
and saw at each visit
how the bookmark was making
its slow descent.

One Tuesday in early June
even though it took some persuading
I wheeled her to her craft class.
I loved watching her give instructions.
She hadn’t lost any of the skill
with her hands, her way of explaining.
Here she was in charge.
"That helped pass the time,
took my mind off myself,"
she said when we got back.
"I’ll take you again next week," I said.
But she said, "It’s the last time.
I’ll never go again."

That first day in the hospital mid-June
I sat on her bed and we talked
amidst the chirps, bells,
PA announcements and the bustling squeak, squeak
of ER nurse shoes.
"Maybe it’s a good thing
I’ve had all this time
to get ready instead of just dropping
dead one day, like Mara’s Mom."
For once I kept my mouth shut.

I fed her supper that late-June afternoon
in Palliative Care.
The air conditioning felt good
after those weeks on the hot ward.
But the cool hadn’t improved her appetite.
"I’ll come again tomorrow
and feed you breakfast," I said.
She squeezed my hand before we left
and her eyes clung to mine
for a long significant moment.

Next morning when I arrived,
though she was still breathing
my dance partner
was gone.

c. 2007 - V. Nesdoly


Julana said...

She had a good life.

violet said...

Yes, she did. But still, it was hard to let her go.

Poets Online said...

I particularly like the lines:

I took her a book on heaven
and saw at each visit
how the bookmark was making
its slow descent.

a wonderful image. Where one expects ascension in the heavenly sense, the reality is different. (I suppose the book face down would allow ascent)

violet said...

Thanks for the comment, poets online! I admit I puzzled over how the movement of that bookmark! And the 'descent' was intentional. Nice that you noticed!