They sit in wheelchairs, holding hands,
discussing this new thing
they’ve done together, falling.
He’d bent to catch her fell himself
broke a femur, now nailed.
He says, Glad we built that ramp.
She says, Our handyman, he could be
our driver now?
They stare into the face they know better
than their own.
She says, Let me comb your hair.
He says, Ask him if he’ll drive.
Both with only briefly wetted eyes.
On the first anniversary of my friend, the poet and disability service worker, Sarah Knorr’s death, this emerged on my morning walk in the woods with our pup Buddy. Guessing you may concur.
We say “passed”
as if they’d tossed a football.
Some use “transitioned”
so you imagine a Star Trek
It doesn’t help.
Lately it seems
not a month goes by. . .
until I hear myself tell the boys,
“You want a reliable career?
They’re called funeral directors now.”
I need to get out, get on with it.
Live on in their name, as we say.
But it does get lonely in here.
Like when you think of a joke
that only they’d get
and look around to finger
some trinket left behind.
Out here in the desert
the summit just a snaggle-tooth
in a granite gumline.
Anyone, they say, can reach the peak of peaks
though the air is thin and the summer heat brutal.
Up there at night you can freeze to death.
But if you prepare, then dare, all it takes
is what made you a toddler, your one step
then another trudging resolution,
until you stand atop a sea of rock
and nothing anywhere higher.
Who wouldn’t want to do that?
But why, you ask?
Well, to go with friends and
reach the pinnacle of something
look around at the world at our feet
come down, look up, and nod
having tested for once the lie
that distance makes everything small.
(On surprising a neighbor lady at play.)
Do they matter anymore
the inclinations of age?
If she stoops
with a groan and
grit at the knees
in sorrow, but
here in bending
that tuft onto
the air about her
resolved in a
if you squint
so much like
that one in the
Have been tweeting two poems a day, all in the style of Sappho, and posted the last one in the collection just now at https://twitter.com/tony_gentry. Here are a couple I really like from the final 10:
when corona came
that woman you killed
the one who worked in the ED?
Had she lived
saved your grandma.
I have no complaint.
I worked fifteen-hour shifts
to save people:
Dead, I won’t
Came upon a trio of opossums (why that first o, I’ll never know) digging in the compost pile behind the house yesterday and by the time I got back indoors was rhyming this ditty to myself.
One played dead
one got mad
and the other climbed a tree.
Made me wonder
which of them I’d be?
Would I faint
or would I snarl
or would I try to flee?
the time will come
and then I guess we’ll see.
By the way, here are two of them, the guy on the left played dead, partner bared his teeth, and out of frame, the other (with hilarious slowness) climbed that tree.
By the end of the week, will have posted all 100 Sappho-inspired poems in honor of Ms. Taylor on Twitter. Posting here an especially topical one, with the Chauvin murder trial entering its second week. (To read them all, go to @tony_gentry on Twitter and scroll.)
Yes Breonna, you may be sure
Across the globe the people
Will spread your name.
Tell the life we shared here,
Make of you a goddess incarnate,
The best among us.
Now among newscasters
Floyd in his turn claims the headlines
As the red-fingered moon
Rising at sunset takes
Precedence over the sky’s stars;
Yet your light spreads equally
On the salt sea and fields thick with bloom
Wherever dew pours down to freshen
Roses, bluegrass, and blossoming
Your smile encircles the globe
Your gentle face, so our hearts
Hang heavy with mourning.
We shout aloud, SAY HER NAME!
We know it; thousand-eared night marchers
Repeat our cry across the seas
Shining between us.