Monday, July 27, 2009

I’m really glad

I’m really glad my mom
Can’t see her kitchen
I know, it sounds cruel,
Like I’m happy she’s going blind
But, I ache watching her
Arch her neck, tilting her head
Toward nothing, looking
The wrong direction, eyes lost, unfocused

She wants to fix dinner
Like she used to, cook a feast
And revel in watching us
Rush toward satiation
I offer to take her to dinner
Anywhere she’d like to go
A poorly veiled attempt to distance myself
From eating from her kitchen

Tiny sugar ants,
Smaller than the ones we’d find
Summer afternoons on the curb
Aligning a magnifying glass
So the sun focused in a spot
They could not escape
We’d watch them sizzle and smoke,
Occasionally igniting a flame,
Then look for more,
Like I said these are smaller
And look black until sunlight reveals
The ruby shine of their shell,
And they are not an army
Swarming every open surface
But small groups of up to five or six,
They crawl over calcified food bits
Long past identification
On counters and in drawers
My wife and I have “deep cleaned”
On our past few visits
A conflicted attempt at love and self-preservation
Yet when we return
Our efforts have vanished
Clearly we don’t visit often enough

When sitting in my mom’s chair
By the front window
I discovered they had migrated
To the living room
There were a few on the side table
My guess is they found where she
Sets her partially eaten cookies
Or where the crumbs settle
When she flails her hands while talking
Or the syrup of her soda pop sloshes

I have tried to explain
To help her see
Little things she should do
To make it better
Only to instigate mutual frustration
That results in no change

She is at peace in her
Lack of knowing
And it may be best for
At least one of us to be
In that state these days


  1. I loved this line... "The ruby shine of their shell,"

    Somehow, ruby is permanently a color of poignance for me. And this poem is altogether poignant.

  2. This is a wonderful parable of our own limitations. You can see what she can't. (In fact, you can see things that are a bit repulsive--but you keep it fun with the great little boy memory of frying ants.)

    I like the conclusion: "She is at peace in her/ Lack of knowing." In part, because it makes me wonder how much of my own peace comes from ignorance...

  3. Wow, an amazing poem and we are happy to post it on our blog! Thanks.

  4. Jim, just stopping in to say thanks again for the poem, and you've been featured today at High Calling Blogs.

  5. oh this brings back memories ...

  6. Hi Jim,
    I'm visiting here via High Calling Blogs.

    This takes me back to my own grandmother's house. She was a strong woman, always in control of things, especially her home. Once her health began to fail, her ability (and desire?) to control her home failed as well.

    Your poem makes me miss her fondly.

  7. such grace in that bittersweet space
    touched to share it