Wedding planning is interesting. Things come up while you are planning and working out all the details. Things like, family skeletons, drama, and of course you think of the people who can’t be there. While formulating how to properly honor our family that has passed. I have been working on this scratch poem.
What is a scratch poem? Well, its something I made up. It’s a poem you write down in a hurry on scrap paper, or whatever is near you before you forget. Then as you write it down you edit it right there real time. Unlike previous poems, I have written which require several editing sessions later. Scratch poems are poems that become the original work in one sitting. So without further introduction, I bring you my poem: Late RSVP
This year has been a wild ride so far. There were times during it where I have to admit I wasn’t sure what was happening or how it was all going to work out.
I had been actively searching for a job throughout last year and the start of this one. It was depressing the amount of resumes I sent out with no response back. My decision to enroll in school again came after several years of debate. I wanted to make more money and I wanted to give myself skills that would give me the opportunities I was looking for. I also hoped it would show as a plus on my resume. Months of sending out resumes and barely getting any feedback led me to feel like failure. When I finally reached out to several staffing groups that is when I landed myself the job I am in now.
Not in a million years did I think I would finally be in a place where I have my own cubicle and my name plaque on the side. I take the train into town to work, which has been both exciting and claustrophobic at times. Each day I stare up at the tall buildings with awe on my face like a dope. It is crazy to admit but this is the kind of excitement I have been looking for. I can finally dress like a professional instead of the uniforms I had worn in the past or the really casual laid back atmosphere of the job before.
It happened so fast that I barely had time to take stock of all of the stuff I would need for the new job. I interviewed on a Friday and I got the call the following Monday. My one year anniversary with my wonderful boyfriend was during the second week of my training. He had recently started a new job too and was looking forward to getting his career on the fast track himself. We both were starting out fresh, but together which made it not seem so foreboding. To celebrate our anniversary from one of the tallest buildings in the city was fabulous. But, to have him ask me to move in? Well, now that is even better.
I finally feel like my life is coming into its own. Perhaps this is what they mean when they say “good things come to those who wait.”
And I was weighed that day silently. I could tell from the look in your eyes that there was something wanting. That among all my freckles and hair, my graces, you had segmented me out into black and red lines. I was missing the parts that mattered most to you. I was absent of the things that you had hoped for. The things I did have, were… just…not enough. I was at a loss of course, because that phantom invisible scale had found me again. The one that everyone uses but doesn’t like to talk about at parties. I was ranked in each category unbeknownst to me, while dinner was being served. I was given a grade next to each on the list. But those numbers, they just didn’t add up for me. I had a remainder you see, I didn’t fit in those clean cut boxes. I spilled over and out of some and I barely filled the box on others. I was a recipe all gone wrong, and you were expecting a culinary masterpiece. I was a disappointment. The weights were heavy and not in my favor. The saddest part, the scales you use and those boxes you fill will never really equal the happiness you seek. But, yours truly with my remainders, my frizz, and my half full boxes will be all the better for it. Thats a sum you can’t figure with numbers and scales.
I apologize for my hiatus. Sometimes it is important to reflect and I needed time to do that.
The phoenix is probably one of my favorite mythical creatures. I can not say it is my top favorite because the mermaid is still number one in my book. In life we can see examples of phoenix everywhere. I admit probably not the bird you have pictured in your mind’s eye, but a rising from the ashes if you will of someone or something. A person who comes back from the brink of death perhaps, or the person you know who under terrible strain overcomes something most thought insurmountable. Nature in its own right can be a phoenix. Fires that rage and eat forests reducing them to ashes, lay the groundwork for nature to be reborn. Perhaps the thing I like the most about the phoenix is this symbolic creature can represent anything but the message always remains the same ” From the ashes I will rise. ”
This poem is meant to pose the question to the reader.. In the face of loss and despair over the death of a loved one do we become ghosts? What I mean by that is emotionally does the living become trapped in the past? As ghosts haunt and revisit the places they once left and never move on does the living in its own reality plane do the same? Can both be ghosts? This poem is meant to challenge the ideal that to be a ghost you must be dead… I don’t think you have to be dead to be a ghost.
Ghost of She
My ritual walk begins
Down the path we used to travel
Blustery winds blow the tricolored leaves
I march on past the old fence gate
Creaking it swings to and fro
Loud crunching of leaves
Begins to cancel out my thoughts
Reaching the end of the road
Street lights flicker and hum
Turning to the right, from memory
Pavement old from wear
Crumbles and crunches under my boots
Seeing my mark
I slow to a stop
The house is vacant
Full of dark emptiness
Standing under the elm tree
Leaning on its branches
I wait patiently —
Chimes from the church begin
Ringing in the hour
A soft light appears
Glowing the once bedroom window
The light travels slowly, dutifully
Down the long hallway
Spilling into the void living room
That’s when I see her
Brilliant and white
A delicate face stares out the window
I watch her a moment
Resist the urge to wave
Slowly her features fade
Luminosity dims and vanishes
My walk back is long
Contemplating the reasons why
We both are ghosts
One living and one dead
But of the two —
Who is haunting who?
“I never meant to cause you trouble, I never meant to cause you harm…”
The dream is real
The danger is near
I am in the tempest of fear
I walk in and there she is
Radio is alive and she’s on the floor
Maybe this too is a dream,
Maybe I am insane?
No one believes me “I am what I am, I’ll do what I want…I can’t hide…I won’t go…I can’t breathe..”
She is gone in the white van with lights
I am left lost
I know this is the beginning
Of the end.
In and out she goes
Where she stops no one knows
Nursing home, place, assisted living
All adjectives I am sick of
All lost their feeling
Locked ones unlocked ones,
Doors with locks but no key
My mind is a swirl
Why so many times?
Why so many places? “You used to speak so easy…your afraid to talk to me….it’s like walking with the wounded… out there with the wounded… and were missing you…”
My life is a tempest,
I am the continent being battered
By the storm
My personal El Nino
“Sometimes it takes a long time for the candle to burn out… sometimes it takes a long time for the bird to fly the coup.” (CAH)
I sit there in the dark
Listening to her chat
She and I are from the same cloth
Same blood, same bone
We were on the same page always
But now things are different
The pages are ripped and torn
The book works backwards
Erasing words, thoughts, hopes
I race to read its contents
All that’s left is lost phrases to a song
In my mind I recall a time when we read it together
I am left to read it alone.
The book of life is mine to discover
I walk alone now on this road
With her notes in my head
And his words in my heart
Why can’t I replay time?
I wonder if the choices I make are right
Would they exclaim “Oh, NO!”
Would they say “it will be alright ?”
Time will tell for me
If this book is the one that will save me
Or damn me.
I fill its pages now with hope.
Notes from the Writer: The music mentioned helped form the backdrop for this piece. In Loving Memory of CAH