Saturday, September 13, 2008
What's Left Behind
I'm finding that experiencing the loss of my dad is triggering feelings of previous losses. I have lost four close family members in the last seven years, and I seem to be encountering the pain of these previous losses. One loss is enough to take; four is exhausting. I must say, though, that I am also remembering the inner strength I cultivated, too. I wrote this poem in 2002, the year my grandfather died. As I read it now, I think mostly of my mom as she deals with the "things" my father left behind.
for my grandmother
He will go first. And soon.
Your trips to the nursing home
become less frequent. To me,
you say, he is already gone.
You pick his plot and gravestone,
pay for cremation, work out
the banking details, clear his clothes
from your closet, toss empty vials of insulin
and stray napkins with his finger-prick
blood stains into the garbage
and empty his blood sugar tester
from your bathroom cabinet.
You remove the evidence—the soiled
washcloths, the filthy fingerprints,
the invisible lip marks on half-filled
water glasses, the hairs collecting in corners—
clear to the white space underneath
in preparation for the cleanliness of absence.