Pulling from the highest shelf
(Hoping no one noticed)
A book labeled too provocative to leave behind:
“Dead & Pretty”
How they once sipped water through stems
From beneath the clean garden soil.
I sit on oak old chairs at Along library table with hearts carved by keys
Holding initials of what love leaves
Turning pages of pressed flowers
Bowing their heads in prayer hour after hour.
Weak petals dry as ice
Lining page after page with the names
Of the dead typed carefully
To let me not forget:
Poppy, Lily, Daisy, Cassia, Aster
Carefully as though stepping through a grave yard - faster and faster
I close the tomb of wild things
With Short lives. I sit remembering
Trying to sweep away my cobwebs
I find dust and mold instead
My skin the color of smooth stones
My body’s brittle bones
Now the color of magnolias.
Water in those years
Turned ore to rust everywhere. Torrential winter snows
Opened up on sleepy
Flower beds. Springing now
Surprising early yellow tulips Yawning their petals open
Waiting to hear the breezes beat to begin dancing -
Bent and swaying
In their cradle and their grave.
Marigolds in my grandma’s garden
Weeds to her - once graced
Me with my tomorrow’s and memories and yesterday’s.
Can you recall when “I love you”
Was enough to buy more time?
Now that I’m expiring, do you still consider
That money well spent?
You bent me towards the light. Then let me go to cry alone.
I know the dawn - I tell you
Dusk I know, too, time lies.
We’ve come for shoveling
Our rough callous hands holding
A bouquet of ill gotten gains.
Some say we’re born of women
Some only children of men
Yet it’s in the heat of my own body
Where I am born again.
My own flowers are planted in clay pots
Held in by iron fences waiting
For chances at their time in the garden.
If you could do it over again
Would you mind not knowing why?
The fall’s done showing off,
Yet Women’s work is never done
Even once we have succumbed to the worst of it.
I set my timer for high tide
Boarding early. Late as ever
You stumbled as you rolled with the waves.
Why you insisted to save
Yourself yet let your legs give way breaking your stride
Now drowning in tears and years of regret
(told you so I told you so)
“Make memories like books of pressed flowers
Let the beauty lie for you
Make the memories last longer.”
Too busy to listen now listless and deaf
Now throwing yourself to a tear soaked ocean
Right along with my steamer trunk
Filled with your pasts
With all the photographs.
All the pressed flowers now floating like dead fish
Along side my face pressed
Against yours in a kiss.
Now Walking the house end yo end like an old pirate
You won’t sleep until you can’t stay awake.
Once you dreamed of drowning
Yet found a floating plank instead
Freed from a boat that crashed long ago
Its bounty sunk down down on a coral reef.
You never learned, yet I swam
Without taking a breath until I found the
Flowers of the sea at
Depths that mean only one things.
And now with the ahead and forwards alone
How easy to forget how love feels.
Rolling your shoulders back
And now put the book on the shelf where it belongs.
(You knew I was no thief)
I meant to return it at least you choose to believe it.
Bing bong bing bong bong bong bing bong (Big Ben chimes doorbell)
Me: who is it?
Depression: oh an old friend!
Me: [excited because I’ve been isolated for seven months, opens door expectantly] Oh, no. It’s you. How did you get our new address?
Depression: I can find you anywhere at any time in anyplace so anyway I’d like to talk to your husband.
Me: [through a barely opened door crack] It seems you’ve already been talking to him behind my back!
Depression: Oh, he he, yeah that. Well, I’m always around…in the garage, the workshop, sitting in his office. He and I have a pact. If he’s laying down I come visit him and ruminate along with him, kind of like meditation.
Me: I was under the impression he is meditating, at least that’s what he’s been telling me.
Depression: HA! That’s funny. He tells you he’s meditating? Oh, good one. He’s finally learned, goodness he’s a stubborn one. He’s meditating alright. Rumination, meditation, what’s the difference?
Me: I’m very disappointed, let me come out there on the front porch, I’d prefer he not know you’re here. I love him and love is stronger than darkness and depression. [I try abc hold back my nearly audible angry tears…not again I say to myself.]
Depression: Well, I got news for ya toots, he’s been cheating on you with me.
[I slip out the front door and quietly shut it behind me careful not to let it see our new house.]
Now out in front of the house:
Depression: Oh very nice inside, I’ve already seen it, been around during those inexplicable arguments, when he tells you to “leave him alone” it’s because I’m there. I’m just good at hiding. You never do see me coming do you?
Me: Oh, I think you’re not as smart as you believe. That’s when I try my best to show him love and caring, make sure he knows I’m here for him. Love heals depression. Well…That and his psychiatrist and his medication.
Depression: Well, when was the last time he had his meds adjusted or saw his psychiatrist? And if you really believe love can beat me, you’re sorely mistaken.
Me: You don’t stand a chance in hell against me. Our trust will see us through. He knows you’re lying to him he just can’t always find the strength to remember sometimes and he pushes me away for a while, but I’m stronger than you. And I know all too well when you’re around.
Depression: Ha. Stupid woman. Drugs may have worked for a while, but I think you’re really overstating your importance. More like impotence aren’t you. I know your sex life goes down the tubes so to speak when I’m around, just like his hygiene. Haha haha. Stinks, doesn’t it?
Me: you’re an asshole. Is your partner anxiety with you?
Depression: Of course, didn’t you notice he was here last week. You were at your oncologist appointment and he knew you would be gone for enough time – didn’t his son push the right buttons while you, poor thing, were getting poked and prodded three hours away. Oh, we also have a contact at your oncologist’s office.
Me: Why can’t you just pick on someone else? No, let me take that back – no one deserves to feel this way. Why don’t you just piss off and die, both of you?
Depression: Oh we wouldn’t do that, and besides we are having a great time during Covid. Lots of new recruits to play with. I mean, we can’t seem to get through to you, but there’s thousands if not millions of people who have a really hard time with isolation and not seeing friends or the people they love. Covid has taken over the hardest part of our job!
Me: This won’t go on forever – you’ll have to go back to working twice as hard again. And by the way some of us are just not going to let you in, since we have no proclivity for being depressed.
Depression: Don’t worry we are not giving up. We will eventually get in your door too. Besides there are plenty better candidates than you for now. Lots more people with cancer who will relent to that negative self talk “why me?” “What did I do to deserve cancer?” “I’m such a loser I can’t even get better with chemotherapy.” “Where did all my friends go? Why am I so alone and afraid?” Oh those are my cues to put a dark veil over their minds, let them sleep all the time, and if the cancer doesn’t kill them…
Me: You’re a sick sick thing. Go away, he’s calling me and I don’t want him knowing you’re here. I’m going to hug him and put on some of his favorite music and get him out in the sunshine today.
Depression: [nearly invisible and hardly audible] Shit, no wonder we can’t get in, he’s a little stronger and you know what we are allergic to…but I’m always around…gasp…cough…I’ll see you soon…gasp…I promise you…wheeze cough…I…
Slipping inside I slam shut and lock the front door and go to wake up my crabby morning hubby. “Honey let’s get out today I’ll make us some lattes. Take a shower and shave so I can kiss your handsome face, and let’s sing and play guitar for a while. I’m gonna put on some music.”
Meanwhile the 70 degree temperature and bright blue sky along with the birds coming to bathe in the fountain in front of the house remind me that the world is full of memories not yet made and there’s much to be thankful for. I remember that love, patience, guidance and above all a commitment to my gratitude to having our happiness uninterrupted by this other disease that lives silently in the dark corners of our life isn’t going to visit us today and I hope not for a long time to come.
May you find peace and hope in these strange and difficult days.
According to new research published by Race for Life today, nearly half (47%) of people diagnosed with cancer said they found it hard to ask for help.
— Read on www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/press-release/2019-05-06-almost-half-of-people-diagnosed-with-cancer-find-it-hard-to-ask-for-help-as-many-fear-being-pitied