Being Mimi

me and emilio

Friday night I was helping Emilio take off his clothes for his bath, kneeling next to him by the tub.  “Take off your glasses,” he said to me.  “I want to look into your eyes.”  I took off my glasses and he moved his face closer to mine.  “What color do they call your eyes?” he asked and put his face up to mine, looking directly into my eyes.  “Blue,” I said, “Everyone here in the house right now has blue eyes.”  “Oh,” he said, continuing to look at me from an inch away.

This from a toddler, a few months over 2.

 

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Above the Trees: May Haiku

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Granite ledge edges
Tree-tufted valley below
Yellow sodden green.

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Razor Life: Seven Years Later

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Seven years ago today Eric died, on a glorious, sun-drenched day.  The forsythia was blazing, warm air drifted through the open windows and the maple buds were dropping their red skin to let the green leaves out.

Six years ago I wrote this poem, on another day of spring sunshine, the forsythia bushes in the neighborhood bringing me full circle to the season of loss.  Finally, I was understanding Eric was really gone, and that holding on to life, while honoring his loss, might just be possible.  “Razor Life” is the penultimate poem in The Truth About Death.  It’s not an easy poem, it’s not an easy book, but it’s the truth as I lived it.  A sister poet recently reviewed the book on Amazon and Goodreads and said “grief is palpable, yes, but so is the skill of the poet . . . this is not a romantic look at death, but rather a blunt and powerfully raw assessment.”

That assessment now includes knowing the rawness of grief does ease, the razor edge softens, and days march on and on whether we can keep up with their beauty or not.  A few days ago I came upstairs to find a swallow flapping in front of the big windows in my study, the room where Eric died.  It had flown in the small opening of our shaded bedroom window and moved towards the light.  David helped it fly out without any harm.

I still watch swallows  against the sky and the cows are already out in the pasture across the road.  Everything changes; so many essentials stay the same.

Razor Life

The pastures are green again, right on cue,
the cows will be out in days. I steal lost time
to meet you, where the train runs into the river,
it’s dark and we move fast, forsythia flashes
gold in our yard, the neighbors’ yard, the bush
in the cemetery on the hill, the catbird who sang
above the blooming lilac in the weeks of desperation
on the porch after you died, you died, you did,
swallows high in the blue, their bellies white
as they turn. I am back to watching the sky,
we still have a car for everyone, we drive a lot,
I talk all the time, the machine is working,
it’s everything will be okay and ah fuck
at the same time, all the time, my razor life.

A Tedious Habit of Introspection

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Albany is a city of contrasts.  Historic brick row houses line streets leading downtown, where the castle-like State Capitol building points its red-roofed turrets into the sky next to the stark, flat geometric shapes of the enormous Empire State Plaza.  “Albany is full of concrete,” Sam said to me when I told him David and I were headed there for his 40th medical school reunion.  Actually, it’s marble, not concrete, but the Empire State Plaza is a huge expanse of gray space, rimmed by tall gray buildings, and I could easily see why someone would remember Albany as a city full of concrete.  There’s even a giant gray Egg, a performing arts center that sits on the plaza like a space ship.

The highlight of the weekend was spending time with Harry, David’s good friend, and driving west out of Albany to a small town to find the farmhouse David rented for three of the years he was in medical school.  On the way there, David was talking about some recent issues that had been bothering him, and Harry said, “Your problem is your tedious habit of introspection.”

David and I laughed and nodded in agreement immediately.  Harry meant tedious to David, and in laughing and nodding in agreement, I was acknowledging how tedious my own habit of introspection is to me.  “You intellectuals think and talk too much,” another friend said to me years ago.

Yes, David and I are introspective and we talk about that introspection a lot.  In fact this blog post is going up a day later than I’d planned because we got caught in a long, tedious and deeply introspective cycle of talk yesterday.

But that’s okay.  We’re both old enough to be able to ride along with who we essentially are and make our way to the moments of appreciation and peace that the tedious process of introspection makes possible.

And how does this all relate to Albany other than Harry having made the comment there?  The contrasts in that city between ornate historic buildings and vast modern buildings remind me of what it’s like inside my brain.  Grand and multi-faceted, gray and flat, tall and wide, big in scope and rich in detail, simple and complex, all cycling in a swirl that lets me laugh at my own tedious habits and relish what they make accessible at the same time.