January 07, 2007

New poem


I bought an umbrella, ridiculously expensive,
because it makes me happy on rainy days
to walk under blue skies, white clouds, pensive,
nylon to be sure, but with wood-tipped stays,

a wooden shaft and handle, yes, you have to
open it with “both your two hands.” I love
the surprised look of friends, when I laugh to
hand it over, black and no different above

from any other until opened and voila!
Somebody told me that if you like rain
you have a depressed personality. Ha!
What if you just like umbrellas? Mainly

I owned three that I bought at a thrift store
a red plaid old manual, pleated accordion,
used and loved till it leaked at every pore;
a pocket umbrella for rain that was sudden.

My third was regular, outsize and black.
I never liked it, it caught just about
every damn wind, pulled and pushed me right back
and in the least breeze, it turned inside out.

“Bumbershoots,” is what a friend used to call them
the French, “parapluies” for rain, and in Spain
for waters “paraguas.” Swahili: mwavuli,
Hungarian: esernyõ, Russian:зонтик

If black weren’t the only acceptable hue
if only umbrellas we chose in a range
of styles and fashions, personalities, moods,
see, the look of a city in rain would change.

The mood of a city in rain would change too.
You can’t look like a circus, behave funereal!
It’s time to recycle your black paraplu--
umbrella, that is, pick out colors that heal.

The next time a rainy day threatens my humor
I’ll fight it with humor I’ve thought of instead.
That steel clouds have linings of shining's no rumor:
I’ll walk in the rain with blue skies overhead.


I don't know if you noticed, but the whole poem above is in rhymed quatrains or four-line stanzas, with a rhyme scheme through out of abab. Of course, the meter is not rigid, and the line breaks keep the pace from sounding clunky or end-stopped all the time, so you don't notice it much, but it's there. You only really notice it, by design, in the last, and maybe the first, stanzas.

It feels good to be back writing poetry after almost a month away from it. I've been so busy with other things and people that I haven't had a chance to sit down and try to write creatively in that long.

I need to curb Karen's enthusiasm for social encounters as she tends to come up here and plop hereself down with a diet soda and stay and stay. And I dunno how to tell her not to, that I'm working and don't want to be disturbed. She CLEARLY does not consider my writing to be important, or she wouldn't interrupt it the way she does. Or insist that we stop for an hour and a half lunch when we are out doing errands that could take only an hour but end up taking three because of it. She tends to have little to do, and enjoys being with people, so I guess she doesn't much care that she sucks time away from others, who might in fact have other things to do. I find it unconscionably selfish of her, barging in with a soda when she is just returning a book, and STAYING! And to not respect my writing, that also upsets me. It's bad enough that she didn't bother to read my book, which she said was to give me provacy, but which I suspect was because she couldn't be bothered. She is never afraid of gossip or to get the dirt on anyone. She doesn't shy away from getting any personal information and would love the info in the book, if it didn't mean reading it. That's bad enough. But now she wants to stop me from writing at all! SHE used to write, and write well, but gave it up. Could she be jealous?

Oh I'm just being bi-chy but I am really and truly irritated with her. Anyhow, I'll get over it, I know. I just don't want to go out with her again soon, because she'll make errands an all-day trip yet again and I don't want to do that.

Joe is holding his own, though his voice continues to deteriorate. He sleeps all night with the BiPap machine on now, which is really good as he needs it. And he mostly eats soft foods as he can't really chew hard things anymore. Thick soups and things like creamed spinach seem to be what he most likes, though I think he can eat a soft meatloaf or omelet still. He doesn't seem to have too much trouble actually swallowing, except for thin liquids, which make him cough. And his strength is reasonably good, though his balance is not so. I think he still has a while yet before he becomes noticeably disabled, except for his speaking ability, which may go fairly soon, devastating loss as it is bound to be.

It is going to be pretty awful, the day he stops speaking altogether, though that may not be how it happens. It may be a slow transition, with him using the speaking program some of the time, and talking as much as he can be understood, other times. I don't know, and can't predict. I don't know if his voice will "die" slowly, or go abruptly one day. They say a muscle can suddenly give way and the person collapse, if it is a major leg muscle for instance, so I imagine that can happen with speech and the tongue. As Joe says, it is a journey, an adventure, and we have to stay upbeat about it, be as optimistic as we can. He is still planning to live past the three year mark, which would put him in the league of those who survive up to ten years. I think if optimism counts, he can make it if anyone can! :)

Posted by pamwagg at January 7, 2007 08:38 PM


Dear Pam,

About Karen interrupting your work: you must TELL her. If you don't take it seriously before her then she won't take it seriously either. You must say that such and such hours are off limits for visiting (unless there's some emergency). Do not always be so accomodating. Your work is real and important and should be treated with respect. My two cents anyway.

Posted by: Kate K. at January 9, 2007 06:49 PM

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