NaPoWriMo – Day #11

Today I am cleaning closets.
I am the archaeologist
of my own life,
of my family.
I sift through layers and remember.

There is the High School Era
with my kids’ athletic medals
solo and ensemble ribbons
musical programs
home burned CDs
report cards and reports
dried and crumbling prom flowers
and so many pictures
of those brave, innocent faces
with a knowing in their eyes
that wasn’t yet beaten or
swindled out of them
that they would change the world
and the fresh young bodies
barely able to be still
long enough
for the snap of the camera

The Elementary School Era
with exuberant little-kid-bright crayons drawings
rippled watercolor paintings
ribbons for history day projects
and science fair projects
and some of the projects themselves
special stones
random game pieces
lopsided coil pots
and handmade cards
ending with “I LOVE YOU”
And photos that squeeze my heart –
smiles with missing teeth
and now-dead pets
first days of school
birthday parties
sledding and swimming
and sitting with grandma and grandpa

Then there is evidence
of the big extinction
when my mom
and later my dad
died.
There are two
black and white plaid bags
from the funeral parlor
four years apart,
but each filled with cards and notes
a slim, white prayer book
a guest book
a silver cross
and a bill of sale.

And that’s a far as I can dig today.

Communicating with the Dead, in 55

I imagined
communicating with the dead
was shrouded
in mystery

But it’s not

It’s a note
in his handwriting
tucked into a favorite book

it’s the smell of
his closet

it’s the work gloves
still stiff with
the shape of his hands

Communication with the dead
is small, common
everyday

and
pretty much
one way

 

This is a 55 word version of a longer piece I’ve been noodling with for FF 55 hosted by Hedgewitch, with a tip of the hat to Galen.  Click on the link to go to her blog, Verse Escape, and join the fun!

Communicating with the Dead

I used to imagine
communicating with the dead
was a wispy, fine-spun thing
shrouded in mists and veils.
There must be darkness
and hands held around a table
and maybe chanting…
My eyes would most likely
roll back in my head
my body go rigid,
a voice would whisper
from somewhere beyond,
and we would all be left in a stupor
filled with awe and wonder.

But it’s not like that at all.
It’s a note
in his handwriting
tucked into a favorite book.
It’s someone mentioning her name;
maybe a story
you hadn’t heard before.
Or a story you’ve heard
a thousand times.
It’s junk mail
addressed to him,
asking for money or a vote
he can no longer give.
It’s the smell of her closet
for awhile.
It’s the work gloves you find
still stiff with the shape of his hands.

Communicating
with the dead
is small, common, everyday.
It can be soft and comfortable
or piercing.
It can come at any time.

The one drawback
to communicating with the dead
is that it’s pretty much
one way.

Sister as Device

My invisible sister
shares coffee with me;
we watch for the sun to come up
together.
On some mornings
we walk to the pond
to look for egrets.

My invisible sister
fixes my hair before dinner.
She brushes it 100 times
and twists it in a perfect chignon.
I thank her with a quick hug
and we walk to the kitchen.
I make salad, tearing the tender leaves
while my invisible sister
pours wine, something white and light.

We talk about when we were children:
long afternoons at Grandma’s,
walking home from Girl Scouts,
skating at Mill Pond Park.
But we never talk about the day
at the old woolen mill
next to the waterfall;
that is a day I try to forget
every waking moment of my life.

My invisible sister
pours another glass of wine for us
and I keep on forgetting.

 

I’ve never had a sister,  but always wanted one.  That’s where this one started.