I remember the hollow cross above my mother’s bed
And the day it opened to me accidentally.
Me, playing, although perhaps always snooping.
The back slid off like a caster gone wild,
and death’s fixings stared back at me,
candles, oils, all neat on tiny shelves.
They, fronted by a golden dying Jesus,
were to get one of us through,
across the river to the other side.
Baroque, some say, comes
from the Spanish word for egg.
OED says a rough or Scotch pearl,
a struggling to get out, like 17th Century
prose, sometimes set free awkwardly and often
pushing too much whimsical ornamentation.
There’s murder in love.
Through neglect, fist, finger, tool,
and maybe what you are thinking now.
My rages, deception, desert inside,
the doctor says I, should know, let out,
like a released egg’s first sizzle in the hot pan.
FINISHING THE SENTENCE
I have not cleaned or even seen
their graves since I put my parents in.
And you know about the mean poems.
We have come a long way together
in the way only angry and fighting families can.
And I have wined out very well, if sadly, on it all.
At first, in flesh and later in day and night dreams,
even after the black hearse rides,
I felt and warmed our great rage.
But Christmas comes and that damned Mother’s Day,
and even I can watch only so many hours
of foot or basketball or buy or drink so much.
And I see a little boy, at some drive or doorway
maybe running to his mother or father, open armed,
I know I am doomed to loving those bastards.
And then . . .
After Toi Derricott’ rendition of Billie Holliday’s “Lonely Grief”
I reverse the leopard, lion, big cat technique:
instead of seeing more clearly when I prowl,
I move to see less.
We were told in Catholic grade school
that our guardian angels sit right next to us
just out of sight. Even then, I knew it was not
seraphim, but dogs of hell stalking.
A mummy lurked outside my childhood bedroom window
swishing through the leaves, even climbing the big maple,
nuzzling the window screen, always closing in.
My parents had let me work out why by myself,
Early real-life problem-solving.
No lessons, even words, nothing
had let me know that answer which was:
how lucky I was to serve.
And had better get more accomplished at it.
And I did and became
for a long time, St. Jay
which might have resulted
in my finding that the mummy was my own
eyelashes against the pillow – devilish, huh?
The more I became afraid, the more
I blinked against that pillow.
Started sleeping on my back
And not looking out the window.
But I still knew grief was there
sad and waiting always in the neighborhood,
with the black hood helmet, despite
all I’ve done for you
and my endless good will.
I will walk to my window again,
praying and reviewing ways to stop
this dark sadness as if
it were just the blur through the tees,
maybe of some dog or cat
who sees me and wails
its own frightful blues.
© Jay Carson