November 01, 2007


Not a very good one, but it's a trying to come to terms...

Summer and Fall by the Reservoir

In summer, in too much pain for weed-pulling
my surrogate mother at 81 shears me blooms
from the overteeming garden, lapis balloon flowers,
fiery ladders of lilies, so many buds of flowers that last
only one day each, but enough they’ll be on display
a week if I can keep them. I race home, my car
broiling, mayonnaise jar with flowers in reservoir water
wedged behind the seat. I’m thinking I can stave off
death if only I drive fast enough and suddenly
I don’t know what or whom I mean: flowers or friends,
my family these past twenty-some years, and me
still too young to lose them. Though flowers return

each year, I think this winter will be Lynn’s last, my
first in this town without her. My next visit is only
Thursday away but I’ve no more duties, no mailing
the Friday Shabbat message to the grandkids,
nor our weekly lunch, since she has given up eating
for Ensure. What matters, she asks, if she smokes?
Life has become what it is, too much with her,
her powers spent like her last dollars. If only Cy
did not cling so, afraid to lose her - the life of all
his love in the world - to the dying she must do. I

too would cling, but for my lack of a right,
the lack of any claim – for in push coming to
shove, I’m just her daughter in quotes, demurring
to the wisdom of relatives, who powwow
without me, trying to solve the unsolvable:
Lynn dying, by will, by degree, mind and body
in a duet of decline even as the year pours itself
towards December. And the poem I write goes on
as it has to despite my uncertainty and fear,
like the swans on the banks of the reservoir
that brave the chilly water so late in the year.

Posted by pamwagg at November 1, 2007 10:01 PM | TrackBack


I think it's a beautiful poem Pam. I respond most particularly to the final stanza, the last six lines, the "duet of decline" and the poem "like the swans on the banks of the reservoir that brave the chilly water so late in the year." The swans may brave the chilly water but you are brave (courageous) to try and face the inevitable death of a loved one in a poem. It's so good to read your poetry again despite the sad circumstances.

Posted by: Kate K. at November 8, 2007 03:15 PM

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