It is time they said, but they never said what it was time for, although they seem to know. It wasn’t like he was going anywhere, confined to this chair, a quadriplegic. He was the chair really as he had no way of moving it. He had no way of moving anything except by putting it in his mouth. So why, he wondered, did they tell him it was time. It was gratuitous at best and he had a watch strapped to his chair so he knew what time it was. But time meant nothing to him. When you are a prisoner as he was in his body time was merely your sentence and in his case it was likely life without parole
Grace settles into the chair,
less an act of sitting than
of floating down onto the seat.
She has borrowed my grandmother’s
smile, kind, gentle, inviting.
She pulls a book from her bag,
its pages or most of them
dog eared, and I glimpse
some annotations in the margins.
We sit around her like children
awaiting presents on a holiday,
as acolytes seeking knowledge
from a font of poetic and prosaic
wisdom, or so we think.
She reads in a voice that is
at once soft and loud enough
to reach the back of the room,
opening the book to a random
page and diving in, then after
what seems like a minute and
an hour, she stops and asks
for questions. We sit dumbstruck
for a moment then fire at her
like machine gunners on the range.
She answers each, claims she is
a simple grandmother who writes
but we know better, know we
are in the presence of a true master.
The rain came sideways today, or almost so. The cat decided that if she needed a bath, she’d give it to herself and opted to watch the storm through the sliding glass door to the lanai. When it ended, she ventured back out, checking out the various and sundry chairs, all hers she assumes, and settled for the recliner in the inner corner, as much for dryness as comfort, but clearly offering both. She invited us out to join her, but all of the other seats were damp from the storm. She didn’t see what that was a problem, she had only the one coat, we could change clothes any time we wanted. We decided to watch her through the sliding glass door.
We could, if you want,
sit in the park on our folding
chairs or better a folded blanket
and stare out over the pond,
its silver surface shirred
by a midday breeze.
We could picnic, sandwiches
of brie and apples, or for us
hummous with tahini and
a bottle of chardonnay, carefully
poured into plastic glasses
imagining themseles crystal.
The dragonflies would ignore us,
busy doing what we cannot see,
though we might draw the eye
of a great egret, for they like
nothing more than to stare
at the strangeness around them.
It was a strange room,
that much I recall, with heavy
velvet curtains covering
what should have been a window,
and might once have been, but no longer.
The only light was a bare bulb
in the ceiling, casting
a soft amber wash across
the time worn oak floor,
and once white walls.
There was a chair, nondescript
and now long forgotten
and a small metal table, once
gray its paint flaking, its surface
mottled and uneven.
Still, I sat in that room
for an hour each day, staring
at the walls, and looking deeply
within, and finding both empty,
have never returned there.
I spent much of the afternoon trying
to imagine you, spending a small part
of an afternoon reading this poem.
I have no clear picture of where you are,
but the chair is well cushioned, and
you sit deeply in it, a glass of some
amber liquid on the glass and metal
end table, just within arm’s reach.
I suppose, since it is early afternoon,
it is iced tea, bit I wish it were a fine
IPA or better still a fine single malt,
though that much would give my poem
a meaning I never imagined, but
that might be an improvement, and
I think I’ll stop here and join you.
After the stroke
he couldn’t remember
much, was the woman
in white who bathed him
his wife or someone
he slept with once
before he had gotten
was a word that he
remembered, though not
its meaning, or why he
had sworn to abide it.
When the aide brought
in the flowers, they smelled
familiar, like the odor
of capon slowly boiling
on the Sabbath stove.
He heard the concerto
small radio tinny, but it
sounded strange, gut
of cat sawed across strings
crying out against
the injustice of it all
and the chair against
the window, was it one
he sat on at the edge
of the stage, bowing
to the audience as
still echoed in his ears.