To Be Taken In


I’m kneeling before this lit up screen
consulting the oracle
it’s the 4th day of Florida
I’m unraveling
So much depth of sadness —
a heart-drop soul-sink smolder of smoky ruin
I stand on the edge of the cliff of my life, pleading with immanence
begging a train-wreck to reconsider its only position.
Expecting 90 year olds’ to change
Expecting still to save my mother
who still kneels to get his slippers lined up just right
who helps him get out of the recliner he’s stuck in
who carries glasses of cool water across the universe to him
pushing her walker one-handed, dripping
Impossible shit of a man
Impossible servant of a woman

And somewhere plans are being made
that I put into motion and that might never happen
because I’m losing heart for adversity
a fighting plan of action
I’ll have to fight them to implement
that is none of my business
and not their wishes
and it could save them
but save them from what?
For what?
Neighbors and nurses, my only cousin and orphaned friends
demand that this is what I must do
everybody has a fucking opinion
I’m the parent now
I must take care of them, strictly
my own image of a good death
as if they’d ever choose my own image of a good life —
This right here is what they’ve chosen.

And if they are children choosing, well
that’s the logical outcome
of a good life
chosen freely on this path that’s so far from my own.
I look around for a parental figure to consult
for some authority on the situation.
Why do I want to save you, Mama?
Because you’re sweet and so fierce.
Because I came from you and you taught me everything
And some of it was wrong
And most of it was wrong
And there are white birds and green forests
out there and I’ve discovered the world
beyond what you’ve known
And maybe it’s just enough if I save me
There are reflections rippling in the morning
fish-scented canals
fractal flowers, shattered perfect images.
This is life, pal.
It takes what falls into it
and gives back circling mirrors
of white birds and blue sky and green trees.
Oh, poet, who invented you and set you spinning
counting the rippling bells?
What purpose to this grief?  
Who cares?
Why do you care so much?
It’s all clouds in the water
all fading flowers or fresh buds
that become fading flowers

Thickening oily pixels,
bands of motion migrating ever-outwards
heading for a shore of anonymity
of ennui, of absolution
Absolve me.
Put me there, on a high shelf of desert
to watch this show bloom and fade
with a pen and a page and no consequences
of choosing anyone else’s life for them
guessing wrong or right for them.
In my world, I can fend for myself
White bird sails in to land, I name it Egret
I can say no or yes
I don’t want this
Set your intention, Daughter.

Her soft skin when I lie with her
the silence, silken and perfect
the stink and the violence gone
nothing but us
the slow butterfly
the gauzy breeze carrying clouds
so easy.
All I want
to come here and cuddle Mama
and not control any of it.
No nursing homes, no death bed rattle, no memory clinic
All just ripples under a duck’s perfect tail feathers.
I can choose to suffer and struggle
or I can choose to laugh
to drive fast, to dance, to write words in the woods
Nothing to be done.
It is already done.

Love is all there is
swinging out, wide as fractured water
spun in the fringed fingers of these morning canals
Why mourn?
For lives that didn’t happen?
Like setting out tombstones for aborted fetuses in the churchyard
just self-absorbed bullshit.
Choose the white feathered wings
let’s all just agree to stop suffering.
Move slow like the Haitian aide
Have no regrets, like water
let life rise and fall and sink
let the night come down and the sun rise up
this real world teaches me so much
What can I do to protect them from their own lives?

Inhale. Exhale. Feel everything
Don’t interfere with this
inevitable Saturn time
Stop being so critical
Five white birds flying
one black bird bathing, chuckles out loud,
heart to my heart
cool wet grass breaks my feet open to touch
egret flies across the water to me
liquid ripples repeating endlessly
to teach me to go on
Life insists
Hooded blooms. Hooked beak.
That half-moon there, setting so quietly.
and the black tipped wings of a big white bird
beating against the tender bushes
to be taken in.

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