was an older lady, or so she seemed to me.
She was just always there,
a woman who ate at her desk from a clear plastic container--
some sort of salad.
She was just an ample,
as permanent as the pyramids.
I thought of her then as something akin
to those funky American clunker cars from the fifties
still rumbling around Havana,
something you'd smile at
but not feel had anything to do with you.
She wore a cross that rested on her bosom,
like the ones that dangle from the mirrors of Cuban taxis.
She stopped coming to work, though, and someone said she was ill.
"Pancreatic cancer" they told me, sotto voce.
I knew, as a northerner, that weather can change in an instant.
What I hadn't known is that I am made of weather
blood and bone and breath
breezing through me every second of every day.
I went to see her with some other women from work.
There, in the hospice, she wasn't ample anymore,
just a paper doll watching episodes on tv through a narcotic blizzard.
British adventurers were removing treasures from the tombs
in grainy archive footage
as the knot inside her belly grew and her hand grabbed at nothing.
"Morphine hallucinations," someone whispered.
After she died I took one of her cats, a calico I had for several years.
I still think of that day at the hospice, though
and how the clown-devil can sit silently at one's side any time,
like a taxi at the curb, bags already arranged in the trunk.
He will watch whatever you want to watch,
at that wind-down hour.
He never complains, talks over the narrator, or changes the channel,
but though we protest that we were only in the middle,
I want to see how it ends
he will click it to black, pull into traffic, and say,
"Nada es para siempre, ni siquiera sufrimiento."
The last line says, "Nothing is forever, not even suffering."
Music: Compay Segundo Chan Chan
Written so vividly I can see it all. I admire so much the way this plays out, and culminates in the closing stanza. Wonderful writing, my friend.ReplyDelete
wow! i had to read this a number of times. wow. permanent as the pyramids. funny how some things feel so permanent, that when they are gone, they're not just not, but turn the whole upside down when they leave. so well written shay.ReplyDelete
This is so beautifully written. I especially love the lines about being made of weather. Amazing. And the images of the poor woman in hospital are so vivid. Almost made me cry.ReplyDelete
PS this is Jo from abigfatcanofwormsDelete
Jo - are you having a hard time getting your login to show up in Blogger? I've been down the tech rabbit hole and can help you.Delete
I love that last line. Your poem is touching and beautifulReplyDelete
Sorry for the anon - this is DebiDelete
The understated and contemplative tone just makes the images more stark and arresting, while it lets the reader get into the skin of the characters and see the world through their eyes. I love "I am made of weather.." one of those perfect analogies that say it all without belaboring the point. The ending is poignant but all too real. The hand grabbing air especially. It's a mistake to think that morphine restores ant sort of normal feeling when it kills the pain. Far from it. Fine,vivid writing on a difficult but very human subject, Shay.ReplyDelete
"any" not ant. On my phone.Delete
I love the cuban cab thing, sarcophagi of our motor past with death at the wheel.ReplyDelete
A sad tale beautifully told. You always do that so well. I love that you took in one of her calico cats <3ReplyDelete