Measured in spoonfuls
Still feel the angst of
pressured from within
spend unavailable resources
push against the walls
with little to show
surrender to impotency
and wait for the next surge.
by proverbial truck
Unexpectedly, I claim
Sure, I took chances
crossed the line
limits, road signs
Driven by compassion
Saw the danger too late
swerving only mitigated damage
Humiliated by the impact
reckless ego smarting.
(image my own)
(M.E. or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is said to be systemic. Every so often it reminds me so I attempt to write through it. Image and poem my own)
Progress, seldom linear,
tosses me into unexpected decline,
stranded and incapacitated.
My son with labour-hardened arms
leaps to my side, steadying me
and I feel the fear in his caring grip
My daughter, ever compassionate,
reaches out, eyes filled with horror
as my body crumples onto the bed.
My husband, my oak, seeks to comfort
his voice betraying the helplessness
this futile predicament imposes.
Beloveds, I know that you see me
this dis-abled, non-functioning shell
weakened and sickly, lying on this bed
Do not be deceived-
it is only an illusion –
vessel temporarily fettered
I am in essence, as before
ambitions and desires intact
hold this version of me
Sense the wholeness of my being
the woman I am yet to be –
my spirit stands strong.
(My Spirit Stands Strong first appeared here August, 2015; edited for this version.
Image my own)
There is safety in apart-ment living;
would corral the little ones, declare
responsibility, obligations as a mask
for this self-banishing compulsion…
except that I am lying prone, exposed –
brains spilling onto concrete – shadows
revealing the darkness of my condition,
hopelessly locked in physical inertia.
I am an unwitting contributor to
scientific (and pseudo) probing:
audacious autopsies pronouncing
conclusive evidence of motives.
Too polite (and weakened) to deflect,
I submit, demonstrating complacency,
sacrificing autonomy; fail to assert
that it is I who is taking this life test.
And, by the way, am passing quite
adequately, which defies all rational
diagnosis and prognosis, and serves
to reassure me of ultimate success.
(Not Dead Yet first appeared here June, 2016. Image my own.)
Slippers, perched at night stand,
mark the absence of feet,
cannot appreciate the meaning
of unruffled bed covers.
Abandoned, a coffee mug
bemoans its curdling contents,
complains of thick brown lines
contaminating its porcelain shine,
has not noted absence of hands.
Chair, pushed back from desk,
in partial rotation, sits awkwardly,
commanding attention, disturbed
by its misalignment, has not thought
to ponder absence of body.
House, uncomfortable with silence,
creaks unnaturally, loudly voicing
objections to the absence of footfalls,
automated machinery and incessant
rings, beeps, and chimes of technology.
I try to reassure them that the absence
is only temporary, that the man whose
presence so strikingly fills this space
will return, hope they cannot read
the apprehension in my tremulous heart.
(Absence was written six years ago, while my husband recovered from a triple bypass. Image my own.)
Ask me how I’m doing
and I’ll say “fine”, not
because I’m actually fine,
but because “fine” is the only
socially acceptable response.
If I said that I have been lying
here, for three hours now,
willing my body to move,
that would elicit unsolicited
advice and tarnish my “fine”.
I’d berate myself for breaking
my promise not to moan,
knowing that complaining
provokes a compulsive need
to fix, which just infuriates me
Because my concept of trying –
which is defined by getting dressed
each day – does not match trying
every new therapy, drug, exercise
offered by well-meaning but clueless
others, who may experience fatigue
at times, but have no understanding
of what is is to be exhausted after
something as simple as bathing,
let alone debating what I haven’t tried.
So, ask me how I’m feeling, and
I’ll say “fine” and we move on
to the weather, or the latest
movie must-see, and I can bask
in the warmth of the contact
carry the conversation into the
void of the rest of my day, smile
to think that I still have friends
who accept my “fine” even though
they know I anything but…
(Re-de-fine-d first appeared here February, 2016. Edited here. Image my own)
In illness, I am passenger –
no matter how venturous
mind’s reach, the raw truth
is that limitations confine
This is not a sentence
for some perceived crime,
but a re-framing – attitude
shifting to acceptance
Choice becomes thoughtful –
time allows for that now –
and gratitude takes hold
in every corner of “I can”.
(Art my own)
Fragility blindsides me –
I am a strong woman,
in face of pain,
Fragility is pervasive –
body fibres stretched
and torn, on brink
obsesses, unable to organize
or let go…
If only I could let go.
I am weeping and not –
weeping from frustration
of immediate impossibility;
unwilling to weep, for totality
of loss is beyond me.
Outside these walls,
regards me with disgust/
equality ignores the ailing.
in this state of rawness,
stripped of busy-ness,
I am as any other –
Just a soul seeking
a meaningful existence.
(The Same, But Broken first appeared here December, 2014. This edition has been revised. Art my own.)
Leave the door open…
surely this foray
into docile distraction
Sun is promising
stirs an inclination
I may find purpose, yet…
harness these sultry thoughts
and venture out that door….
(Image my own)