Thursday, January 28, 2016


High up on Mount Diablo, along its ledged ascent, I forget 
he is dead. 
Above clouds, almost in night’s realm, I know nothing. 
Clouds flow under me as flocks of angels 
shielding me from the darkness below, 
waking me from all knowledge. 
From knowing I ever had a husband
nor knowing anything at all under cloud.
Indeed I am new born in veils of blue light. 
Used to just a picture in every room without the scan
of hazle eyes, no swallowing a brick.  
And just like that, I am used to living in sky
as if my house has been standing here all along, 
without its floor ever dropping away. 
And here’s what I tell myself:
Life must stay porous. Pathways must open 
so the mouse can wiggle free 
and the wild geese fly in. 
No matter how lonely I am, the world 
offers itself to my imagination.  
Mary Oliver believes this. I will believe her. 
Swear allegiance to her. 
But this will take patience. It will take time. 
It will take this palm fast on my heart. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How many clovers pop up overnight 
after a light rain, how many of them
can magically pop from the ground?
So pretty, so frilly as if crocheted
and for the first time since he died, 
I don't feel like crying.  

Minutes ago, while dressing I hear his voice 

from inside the closet. El, it's ok
I know it is illusion but I also know it's not. 

Once I stood at the bed where he had not moved 

in two days though his chest had been rising and falling
like someone who might open his eyes at any moment.
Just as these fallen leaves can take flight in the wind.

I can hear his voice in the closet one more time, 

(though I myself had seen him cold as concrete
and remember the room smelling of blown-out candle)
so why now this voice and why from a closet? 

It may just be my own voice, 

my own self whispering to me,
but because of it I can walk in the woods again
with only rain on my lips, with a joyous feel 
of a soul nearby ready for flight. 
That's the image I love 
and I let it cling to me.   

Monday, January 11, 2016

What is around me

What is around me is absence. 
It is all around here everywhere.
It is in our bed, it is on the couch.
All around is my need, my want, 
this deficiency. 

What is around me is fear,
what is around me is strange and quiet. 

I wait for his cough, the zipper on his vest, 
the thud of his brush in the drawer.

I hear it all clearly, the absence,
the loud absence of his voice calling: 

El, Going to the kitch? 
Bring me a peach. 

All around me the smoothness, 
the grayness of absence. 
I fall asleep with the absence of husband 
and in the morning when I awake
there it is, smooth and grey and silent,
all around me, I see he is not here. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

At the top

At the top of his headstone

I write, thank you.

Songs of gratitude were the soundtrack

of his life.

Whatever sorrow came to call

could not very change him:

He looked into that murky eye

and chuckled,

Thank you:

Thank you for the high notes,

they made the low notes bright.

At the top of my mind now


When he closed his eyes

that last time and rested his cheek

of white quills on his shoulder bone,

a near smile stuck on his mouth,

as if this were an ordinary

night, an ordinary sleep,

just another dream

with breakfast waiting.

At the top of his merits,

I witnessed kindness, I heard praise

given freely.

Among his last words,

Hey, I like your hair.

A glimpse

I knew it, as we all know it: mean death leans 
against the railings;
in every moment malice mills about;
we don't own these bodies, they are the pod's.
He didn't know, nor did I, which of us 
would go first. 
I guessed, discretely, when I dared to, 
it would be him. 
There were reasons, none gasp-inducing, just that 
he ate more meat, did not exert enough perhaps;
and his men seem to buckle, nor did he believe
all this would clutch him from our stream of life 
but when I glimpsed that steep path down,  
I felt soaked in ice.
Lasting only seconds but when I got a glimpse,
I saw my own headstone, too. 
I saw the end of him and me as the end 
of all the world. 
He was so real, so finished, 
so whole and endless, like the Sierra Nevada, 
like a continent, 
 and if I was wrong about him, 
I was wrong about everything. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

The last tme I said no

There was that night I drove home and saw you seated
on the patio overlooking the San Francisco Bay, 
the lights twinkling above it, all spread before us like a galaxy. 
Then your hand waved a small hello and pointed to the chair 
beside you, unable to speak, your ears so fastened to the radio voice 
and then I heard the UFO talk and shot you a disdainful look 
and walked away. That was a time when you would have loved 
me to say, yes, to sit with you and listen to the radio and speculate 
about Area 55 with cups of brandy in our hands, feeling the night 
press on our backs, the sweet tingling mix of fear and gratitude. 
But that was not the last time I said no to you 
and I cannot remember the last time I said yes, really and truly, yes! 
--that "hurl myself through a pane of glass" kind of yes 
that I could say right now, if only you were here.
I could hurl myself into the stars, into whatever else is up there,
to say yes with such fervor, to hear what you heard on the radio 
and talk with you about unlighted stars and aliens who 
bear witness to our doomed vivacity.

I could learn secrets that might help us now.

A small space

To force me to get him that one forbidden pleasure he still desires 
in this his final year (neither knows it will be the final year 
but we consider it),  
he tells me: 
"It's all I have left in my little life."

He means it literally--his life is shrinking from town to house 
to room to king bed to hospital cot in the corner of our room. 
He has been warned: never salt, never! but he craves sausage biscuists
every morning. He is too thin to be recognized but pleads, Oh come on, 
let me have the damn biscuit. His little life comes up again.  

I wish I could explain how it feels 
to sit beside him who has been so humbled. 
To sit with him in the drive through window of McDonald's 
on our way to the dialysis center. 
To order for him the #8 breakfast: 
Sausage biscuit, coffee, hash browns, a second biscuit. 
To know it is bad bad bad but it's all the food he will want 
until tomorrow. 
To stare straight ahead, to know something is coming soon 
to kill him. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The box

you who weigh heavy in this box, a mound, bits
of rock, consecrated chards: today i am done with you. 
i am done writing about you. 
i am done talking about you. 
my jaws ache from talking about you. 
i am done looking at you. 
my hands cramp from looking at your photos, 

from packing up your things. 
i am done thinking about you. 
thinking about you raises 
my blood pressure. thinking about you 
slows my breath, 
thinking about you 
winds me up into a knot. 
And writing no longer releases. 
it's always about loss, always this disintegration, 
always this end, never
about touching, never about hope, never resurrection:
because footprints melt with the snow--
that’s what I know.

How many different ways can i tell you 
how sorry i feel? but this life without you 
will be lived. 
i will not jump off the golden gate. 
i will not overdose 
on ativan. 
you will be the train that roars out 
of this station into the end of this world 
and i will join you but not today; 
today your whistle will blow more faint, 
its scream will fade far from this room. 
this is relief. this is what i need. 
because i am exhausted. 
because my tear ducts have dried up. 
because i need to sleep a whole night. 
because i need to eat. 
because I cannot go on like this,
filled to the brim with fright and rue, 
with dread, because it only gets worse
if I let it.