On this day sixteen years ago my mother died of pulmonary fibrosis, which means that she had lungs of cardboard-type tissue that could no longer efficiently absorb oxygen. I went to the cemetery today with my sister to visit her grave site in a national veteran’s cemetery in the quiet, brown, tumbleweed town of Gustine. There we had a long quiet, somber sitting session over the tomb of our parents while watching long-winged birds catch updrafts from the hills to the west of us. You get used to people missing, even though they still feel present, so the sorrow loosens its hold on your feelings and you look with more freedom and sensibility at the years that have transpired since the departed have gone their ways.
I could see that I will also join that long quiet time; at least, quiet to those left behind who may wish to ponder my whereabouts as I have also done with my parents. My goodness the cemetery was populated with so many smooth, flat-lying granite stones. The granite is dusty at each site and each needs polishing to make them pretty and shiny once again. The stone so dulled from weather, with a little attention, could look quite marvelous. We need to treat such things better. I’m writing metaphorically, of course–meaning that we need to each treat death with greater attention in our daily lives if we wish to understand anything at all about purpose and meaning, or wish to find a tool within ourselves to become more focused in how we live and the ideas for which we stand.
When I drove home, on a narrow highway through the hills, we were among the first to arrive at the scene of a fatal automobile crash. Another close look at mortality, in the form of an upside down auto that was completely crushed and smashed, such that any sort of life form within would have had no chance of escape or survival.
I took a nap in the late afternoon, hoping that some of the heaviness of the day might find relief in a few quick winks. When I awoke I felt moved to review and publish several short poems that I wrote about ten days ago. I have to be ready for the flight of words when they come to me, and then often keep them for a few days to see if they are begging me for rewrite. When the words have faded from my conscious immediacy I am anxious to let them take on their own life elsewhere, removed from my imaginative consideration.
Short poems published today, written within the last week or so: