Portraits of My Mother


Me, Mom and my baby

 

Barbara E. Gormley Koslow Davis
 (June 24, 1925- May 23 2007)



My Mom died in Eureka, California on Weds. May 23, at 10:15 PM. She stopped eating and drinking 5 days before she died. My wife  and I spent most of her last days with her and helped her through the difficult last hours when she was having trouble breathing and threw up blood. She was peaceful at the very end, as her breath slowed and then softly stopped and she let go. But the doctor was mistaken to say she left us "so peacefully". The last 5 days of her life was a horror. We had ĎHospiceí help us  and  unlike the some of the nursing home staff, they were warm. The female chaplain did not mind being kind and loving to a couple of compassionate atheists like my wife and I. She helped care for the baby as Barbara was in her last hours. That was very kind indeed. We flew back to Cleveland with Mom's ashes and buried her next to my Dad. 

         It was the end of years of loving care of her, as she declined into the complications and losses of Alzheimer's disease. It was very hard on me, the caretaker, and my wife, but we did the best we could. We had to. We have a health care system that cares about profits and not people. The nursing homes she was in, even the best ones, were neglectful. If we did not visit her 5 to 7 days a week she would not have been cared form and we had to do some of the care ourselves. I would say it was one of the hardest things I ever did to care for Mom when she had this disease.
  
       Yet it was deeply satisfying. I am proud to have cared for her, perhaps because it was so difficult, but also because I loved her. Her death was profoundly moving experience. It was so beautiful to be with her in her last moments, to cry over her going, and to hold her in her final suffering. To embrace her as she died and feel the warmth in her body leave her. Many people want to hide form death, to cover it up, to pretend it is not there, to mystify it and put it in churches or in the hands of priests. I am not one of these. I want it to be embraced as part of life. I refuse to mythologize death and to make it art of a religious delusion. It was very upsetting to be with my mother as she of course, but I was glad to be there for her. She was deeply loved as she parted from life. No, let me correct that, she did not "part" form life, as if there were something that continued into another life. Her death convinced me that there is no life after death and that this is a good thing. We are here on earth to live on earth. There are no gods: It is up to us. There is no life after death: it is this life alone that matters. To be with Mom as she died was to honor her life and to share her final moments in profound intimacy. I loved her as deeply and profoundly as I could. To share in someone's death is one of the most intimate events possible in our animal lives. I know this form spending the final hours with dying animals. My mom's cat, who become my cat when Mom got too sick to care for her, had died a few weeks before Mom. I shared the last breath with both Mom's cat and Mom. I felt the last of the warmth leave her body as she ended her existence as a living being and returned to matter. I watched her legs turn purple. It was not a spiritual experience but a profoundly earthly one.

I kissed her face all over as she breathed her last breaths. She was profoundly important to my life and I shall always miss her. Let those who wish to accuse me of being sentimental, But I am not ashamed to feel and my mother was deeply part of my entire life.  There was never a point where she was not part of my life. Her passing is a large part of my own passing, as what leaves when she leaves is a large part of me.

  What follows is the poem I read over her grave which I wrote in the nearly two weeks after her death IN California and the and the burial of her ashes in Ohio.     

 

Elegy for Mom

 

Part 1

(Mom speaking)

 

Goodbye air, goodbye breathing,

Goodbye mouth gasping for breath,

Goodbye blood thrown up on the sheet

Goodbye son hovering over me

Wishing I would not die.

Goodbye living, goodbye life

Goodbye to the front tooth I lost as a girl

Goodbye to my first white dress

And the low cut red dress I wore for my husband

that hung in the closet for 30 years.

Goodbye to the flowery red Moo-moo

I wore during the years I was pregnant

when I had my last baby in 1960.

Goodbye Wellesley College

and red lipstick and fingernail polish and

high heels and politics.

I loved talking about politics.

Goodbye to roses and azaleas

and all the gardens my green fingers loved.

Goodbye favorite couch

Where I tucked my legs under me

and read so many good books.

Goodbye consciousness and existence.

Goodbye to the kittens for whom I made

labyrinths out  of books when I was a kid.

Goodye Mei Lin, my favorite cat,

 who died the day of the seizure I had two weeks ago.

My brain is collapsing from within

and I'm sliding into absence.

Goodbye all the men who loved me

Clay Ragsdale and Dave Davis and Chuck

Goodbye especially to Jerry Koslow,

the one I loved the most

Who I lie next to in death.

Goodbye dawn and Long Island

And memory and the day I met Jerry

at a basketball game when I was 14

and we went to Scoops soda shop

and I loved him my whole life long.

Goodbye to his blue eyes and your children

And all the days I was lonely or happy

Or lost in my mind to a disease

I never knew the name of.

Goodbye to the oak trees I loved

and had to cut down in the front yard

and our dear white dog and

Goodbye pain and sunlight

and my hazel eyes.

Goodbye everything and everyone

and silent stars and the rarity of breathable air.

This precious life breathing out

with this my last breath.
my last hour, my last minute

this is all the life there is, this last hour last minute

my breath slowing to a stop.

Goodbye earth and

goodbye dear son who watched out for me

so long, so long

so long Mom.

 

 

 

 

Part 2 (me talking)

 

Goodbye mother, Mom,

my oldest dearest friend.

Goodbye to your cold forehead

---my warm hand looks so red

stroking your blue forehead--

as you lay under

a white blanket in the funeral home.
I bought flowers for you and put them on your chest

but they are too bright against the chalky pallor of your skin.

I miss your living skin
and am sorry of the crystals on your forehead

since they just took you out of the funeral home freezer.

Goodbye Mom.

Goodbye to helping you walk so painfully

down those nursing home halls

---so many nursing homes---

 where I visited daily,

and all the dear drained faces of the other patients,

some of them loved you

even though you did not know--- or did you?---

and the underpaid aides who also loved you

despite your illness,

all said how special you were.

Goodbye unsanitary halls
and sagging heads in wheel chairs

and waiting for nothing and neglect.

Goodbye Alzheimerís and Nursing Home accountants

who exploited your weakness.

Goodbye good and bad doctors and nurses

and health care that doesn't care

and stole your money and your carpets

and left you with nothing but a sheet

to burn you in a cardboard box in a crematorium

and never came to visit you when you needed it most.

 

Goodbye mother,
34 years since the love of your life died in 1973.

24 years since you lost your second husband

And gave up on men, fearful of another death.

ďI just canít go through it againĒ you said

Goodbye Mom, who wanted to die so long

she learned to love life and

held to it with so much will

who wanted us to help her walk---
just a few weeks ago---

the two of us holding her under the arms.

Goodbye to her eyes and holding her hands

and rubbing her shoulders

wheeling her wheelchair

outside to sit with flowers
and sun on her face---

and how happy she was eating a chocolate-chip cookie,
the baby laughing beside her.

And all the days I pressed my forehead against hers

And she shook her hands with glee,

when she heard me say
 "Mom, its me, Mark"

ówhen she was no longer able to see-----

and I insisted

" there was still a person in there"

hardly anyone else seemed to recognize her,

as she lost the ability to talk and walk

and I fought dragons for her right to be a person,

to keep her alive----

fought dragons to stop those who tried to harm her

and I who donít believe in dragons

fought them day after day for 7 years,

without hope of thanks or treasure

but because I loved her.

 

Goodbye Mom, from your son who you breastfed

And introduced to the universe

And for whom you made sandwiches

wrapped in the the waxed paper

of the wonders of childhood

and brown paper bags carried

with a love of life you gave me.

And how many times you defended me and stood up for me

and helped me though school

and never asked me to say thank you

or asked for the same in return.

How gladly you gave and how I gave back

and how good it was to have this love

that was simple and mutual.

 

Goodbye Mom,
 who didnít want to die as you died

and whose eyes went blind while still seeing

and whose hand reached for me out of death and

held on to mine
and I held on as long as I could.

Goodbye Barbara

Who only days ago reached out for your

granddaughterís cheek

and touched it with the tenderness

of the red roses petals you loved

Goodbye Mom,
whose hand reached for me out of death

and I held on and didnít want to let go

and your breath slowed down and suddenly

your last breath,
 in and then out

and you were no more

you simply stopped

and

I kiss your face all over.

I kiss your face,

I kiss your face.

 

June 2007

 

 

 

Factory Farming Our Elders

 

 

        

      What you see above is a real picture of my Mom and I moments before she died.  I am not ashamed of this picture and do not find it unflattering to her. She was deeply loved by my wife and I and profoundly affected our lives. The last remaining moments of her life were precious to me and I like looking at these pictures. If others are horrified by it, they do not know what they are seeing or are in denial about the reality of death. There is a category  of cramped and narrow minded people who cannot stand to see people with disabilities or diseases and want everyone to look alike. there is another category of people who think all bodies are beautiful is the fictional afterlife. Mom was sick and this is the last day of her life with me and I value the picture for that too, It was the end for her and I loved her to the end. Those who find seeing her shocking can go jump in a lake somewhere. They are the same people who want to hide he elderly in nursing home and help create the atrocities that occur in them. the help stigmatize illness and death.

          Her sickness had been a major part of my life for ten years.  I celebrate her death not because she died but  as part of celebrating her life. In the same sprit of celebration we go to visit her grave every year on the day she died and have a happy picnic on her grave. We remember things about her and the kids play and run. Many think that cemeteries are places of sour sadness and doleful grief.  But they need not be. The fantasy of life after death creates this unrealistic notion of death.  When you realize there is no life after death it is the person's life that we celebrate not their death.

        But Mom's death had other implications too. It taught me about the horror of the health care system in America that largely failed Mom and fails millions of others.

Mom's death on Weds. May 23, at 10:15 PM was the culmination of years of caring for her.. She stopped eating and drinking 5 days before she died. My wife  and I spent most of her last days with her and helped her through the difficult last hours, just as we had helped her though the years before. The progress of her Alzheimer's was made considerably harder by their negligent care and we bravely faced each crisis that was created by the nursing home industry.  It was not easy and took a huge toll on us both emotionally and financially.   But we went though it because of this woman who we cared about daily. She had always been good to us, and was part of our little family. I would say we went though hell for her, but I don't believe in hell. We went though the "hell" that humans create in their greed and malice.
 

  A recent essay published in the the New York Times) "At Many Homes, More Profit and Less Nursing" September 23, 2007)  talks about  corporate  nursing homes and how  they exploit elders by cutting back on staff and nurses and providing less care.  The article points out how Warburg Pincus and the Carlyle Group bought out Habana Health care in Tampa, Florida---- as well as 49 other nursing homes--- and proceeded to cut out nurses and cut back on help and food and other services The article states that at least 15 people died at Habana due to negligent care, according the the families of those who died. In addition,

"Last year, Formation sold Habana and 185 other facilities General Electric for $1.4 billion. A prominent nursing home industry analyst, Steve Monroe, estimates that Formationís and its co-investorsí gains from that sale were more than $500 million in just four years "

         This sort of corporate analysis is interesting and shows the corruption at the top. Exploiting and killing old people is very profitable. But it doesn't tell us much about the real suffering that corporate greed causes at the bottom, namely to the people who have to live in these nursing homes.

         I do not approach this subject merely as an academic writing an essay about a social trend, but as a son whose mother was abused by this system. My individual struggle was not an abstract struggle for "social justice" but an actual struggle to keep my mother from getting scabies again, or having her head bloodied or broken in yet another fall onto the unsanitary floors of a dirty nursing home. It was a five year struggle that I often lost. Only my wife helped me and at the end no one said thank you.

         I cared for my mother in various nursing homes for the last 5 years and for some years at her house prior to that. One of the worst was the one where she died: Pacific Healthcare, in Eureka California, which is owned by Skilled Healthcare Inc. They own over one hundred homes. They try  milk profits for investors by cutting back on nurses, aides and whatever else they can take from patients to give to stockholders. It is the usual strategy.
 

         Mom's suffering was deep and long and profound. I learned how horrible and exploitive the care of the elderly is in this county. For five years I had to fight, almost daily, for momís right to dignity. They overmedicated her, to the point of utter apathy and inaction, forcing her to be wheel chaired. They over medicated her with other drugs, causing falls. One such fall resulted in her hospitalization. I fought to get her off those medications. Later she had another fall caused by neglect. They simply did not have enough staff to watch the patients, many of them with advanced diseases and dementia, so they neglected to buckle mom's waist belt in the chair. By this time she could no longer walk or talk and she was unable to stand on her own, so by leaving her unbuckled they left neglected care that they knew she needed and she feel out of the chair strait onto her face. She had had a stroke and could not use left hand, much less her two hands together to do anything, much less undo a buckle, but the nursing home director said she took the buckle off herself. They lied to prevent a lawsuit. A worker who was there at the time told me she fell and that the nursing home lied to over it up. If I could have I would have sued them. Here is a photo of her after this fall, in the fall of 2006, which resulted in her being unable to open her eyes for days due to the blood that pooled around her eyes making them black.

 

 

        We got no apology form the nursing home or any real sign of remorse. Millions of our elderly are treated by these homes in this way.

 On another occasion the nursing home took her off medications too fast, causing a sudden crash in blood pressure. Again she had to be hospitalized.

         Twice they gave her scabies, a horrible skin parasite, twice. Both times they treated her for scabies on my request but denied that she had them but the scabies went away. They did not want it known the home is infected with scabies, so they treated it but denied she had it.

         I had to struggle to be sure her diapers were changed. I often had to help change her because if I didn't it would not happen. I knew that if I did not visit her nearly everyday her care would deteriorate even further than the abysmal care she received with my careful monitoring of how she was treated.

        We should all be ashamed of how the elderly are treated, but few are willing to look at the truth about it. She was a good person who cared about people who do not have power, which is most of us. She was very smart and well read and loved gardens, animals, art and music. I miss her conversation. She was a joy to talk to. She graduated summa cum laude form Wellesley College, gave birth to six kids and had two husbands. She needed me and I cared for her and I will miss caring for her. I loved her deeply. Before she died I kissed her face and hands and told her how much I loved her. My wife did that too and she was surrounded with love. I donít think Ill ever quite get over her loss.


         In the course of caring for her I learned allot about the nursing care industry. I have learned enough, in fact, to conclude one thing: The nursing care industry needs to be abolished and rebuilt from he ground up. it is the most corrupt and unethical system I have ever witnessed. 

       
         The care of the elderly in the United States is not dissimilar to the meat industry, the chicken or cattle industry. They are all organized on the same corporate principles of efficiency and deflecting risks onto the innocent. The corporation that exploits the elderly do all that they can to cut costs in order to serve stockholders profits at the expense of the elders they claim to care for. They cut costs by medicating patients into an oblivious state so they can hire fewer aides and nurses and thus make greater profits. They even encourage aides not to come in, because they make money when aides don't show up to work. It is not  a care "industry"  at all, but an industry that does all it can to avoid caring for their patients, while charging them as much money as possible. In the meat industry  the risks  and expenses are put on the land, the pig, chicken or cattle. Excrement is spread into rivers or on farm land, causing damage to ecologies. In the elder factories called nursing homes, the risk and expenses are put onto the patients themselves or their families. The patients suffer from various forms of neglect,  The lives of the elderly are preserved as long as possible so they can continue to bring in money for the Corporate officers. The family of patients are expected to pay out the nose, and when they family is bankrupt the government is supposed to pay the exorbitant costs for substandard care. My mother's care cost 4500 to 5500 dollars a month, on average. In 3 years her fortune of over 300,000 dollars went into the hands of various corporations.

           The aides that actually took care of mom on a daily basis were over worked and pay low wages, 8 dollars an hour being an average, which is not even a living wage.  So what nursing homes do is they underpay workers, and give patients bad, cheap food. The cut costs everywhere they can, always in their interests and not in the interests of patients. The patients get substandard care, The one watchdog is the federal government, which restricts and regulates the homes in various ways. But the fines  are so little they are not a deterrent to continued abuses. The "homes" go ahead causing bed sores, causing patients to fall due to overuse of chemical restraints, or other forms of negligenceÖ..
 

          I did everything I could to defend my mother against this unjust system of care. What happens is that I would call the Ombudsman after Mom fell or after the scabies outbreak--- every state requires there be an Ombudsman to field complaints about nursing homes--- but the ombudsman does nothing, or they call the state Medicare agents who watch nursing homes, but they donít do anything either. They go out to the nursing home and investigate but the nursing home knows so well how to cover up and lie in concert, nothing is learned, nothing discovered, no real evidence is gathered. I went through this process repeatedly, but got no real help. So I wrote poems about Momís hardships and her death, as follows.

 

         This problems is so deep that only a huge systemic change would address it. Abstract talk about social justice and "parecon" just doesn't touch the facts of what real people suffer in nursing homes.  Few people want to hear about the problem much less organize to deal with it.  It is not a sexy leftist cause like opposing Bush's war or cheerleading for Hugo Chavez or complaining about democrats, however worthy these pursuits might be.  In my experience, no one wants to take care of the elderly, especially if they have a dementia like Alzheimerís. No one wants to deal with the fact that these people lie in their own excrement and get diseases from other patients because sanitation is so bad in these places. So the result is that the state allows abuse on a huge and national level, but local DAís will not touch it, Medicare does the absolute minimum to protect these people, and business has found multiple ways to skirt the law and neglect and abuse these people to their profit.  In my  personal experience nursing home industry gets protection from Medicare/Medicaid. So government is allowing the abuse and fleecing of America's elders.

       But maybe poetry  and photography says more than academic prose  to protest this issue.

Here is a poem I wrote about my mother while she was in the nursing home.
 

 WHISPERING TEAR

She is locked inside this mirthless house
her life is loss, lost mind and home
lost her two spouses.
I alone am witness to the gruesome ways

her dignity is abused, day after day.
Allher life savings gained fair and square
did not go for her bodily care
with all her money gone and nothing to show
but an empty mind

she is exploited by nursing home CEOís
who commit the legalized crime

of stealing from the innocently sick--

stealing wax form the candleís wick--

and suck from these elders unjust wealth
and leave them bloodless and steal their health

and ride the freeway in a velvet Mercedes

while in her wheelchair she sits in feces.
The Nursing Home smells like shit

but everyone pretends not to notice it.
Cared for by Mexican aides who are afraid to say
what really goes on, put upon,
overworked, given little pay
exploited by a system
that profits from bedsores
and cares little if they fall
on the shinny floored halls
and break their hips or crack their heads.
If patients are dead
the CEOís canít collect Medicare
so they keep them barely alive
deny that scabies are everywhere.
And so long as no courts are notified

or they are sued because the patient died
they cover up, neglect, ignore the gloom,
pr
etend life is a suburban family room.
Happy Acres, Suns
et Home,
palsied hands, s
kin and bone
Peonies, Roses and Begonias
all is a pose

to hide the preventable pneumonia,
dripping from my motherís nose.

My motherís head sinks in her hands like an old shoe
Her lost thoughts do not know what to do

the idea of going from her mind is gone
She sits without knowing why she longs
for what she cannot begin to say.
Her hands are not sure where they should move
Her face seems inside a plastic glove
they use to clean up he+r smelly mess.
Its such a shame they cannot guess

what a wonderful person once there was
her mind wrapped in layers of gauze
who now in a wheelchair sits
prone to panic and speechless fits
drugged for the convenience of the nursing staff
she has forgotten how to laugh,
how to cry,
how to know
what is high, what is low
her mind is a silence filled with rack
et
and kept in achemical straitjack
et
restrained even from expressing her pain
she does not remember how to speak my name.
She knows my hands by how they touch her face

and her hand in my hand I let her place

a hint of the person who once was free

but now is a whispering tear of memory.

 

2006

 

 

 

 +

 

 

 

 


Below is an earlier poem about my mother, who I cared for on a daily basis and who had advanced Alzheimerís disease, written in 2002.

The painting goes with the poem, as will be clear if you read the whole poem



Portrait of My Mother
 

The ROMANTIC
 
My mother loved the sea
Especially the Atlantic off theLong Island
of her childhood
but the Pacific too, wild and rockier.
 
Blowing sand in the dune grass
and the cry of white gulls
across the blue horizon
her lonely heart sought a land of love
even as she longed for the sea.
 
When she was a child, she said,
her father hovered near her
when she waded into the waves
and her brother told her too,
"Don't go out too far"----
I stood watch over her too, in my turn
as she waded out too far
into the waters of dementia
and held her back with loving hands
giving her a few extra years of 
Freedom.
Those who should have thanked me
for the care of her
never did,
and the ocean began to close over her head,
the day her four ungrateful children
seized her from her house
and began drowning her in nursing homes
with chemical lobotomies.
I have been trying to hold the ocean back
ever since,
But the waters begin to overwhelm her 
Her eyes murky with medications
and her speech like talk underwater.
She is suffocating under their "care"
And I am trying to give her air.
 
They hired medieval doctors in modern white coats
full of their own 'expertise' and so 'up to date',
who apply chemical leeches to her brain
in an effort to bleed her back to health.
The nursing home 'industry' corrals her into
a pretty prison for human cattle.
They prefer their patients drugged into oblivion
easier to 'manage', they say,
and have destroyed her personality
while they take all her money
and keep her penned with other living corpses
wandering the halls aimlessly
looking for their lost homes
and homelessly stripped of their dignity.
Someday their stories will be told
in narratives like victims of the slave trade
and the abuse of the elderly for profit
will return to haunt
the houses of the greedy and ungrateful.
 
Imagine, what kind of people
want to drown their own mother
in a sea of drugs?
Are these the same people---
of the same mentality---
that drown the earth in chemicals?
These are the people that harm animals
these are the people that hurt the innocent.
I have no relation to them----
they are none of me.
They knocked her down
like an animal in the road
and I alone see the panic in her eyes
like a wounded deer run down
and I run my fingers through her hair
and hold her head against my heart.
I've done all I can to stop them.
 
Imagine stealing your own mother's heart
and leaving her alone 
to wander in her own lost mind
voiceless as a ghost with no hands.
They are already counting her money
and sift through her objects
planning for the day she dies.
A True Romantic, she lived for love,
like "Moonlight Serenade", Frank Sinatra,
The swing of Benny Goodman, and the songs 
of Nat King Cole and Harry Belafonte.
If she werenít so shy,
she might have been a singer
because she has a good voice.
She was smart too, 
smarter than her two husbands
But she suppressed it
As many women of that time did.
Her grandfather wrote a book about
important "colored" people in 1933.
"Who's Who in Colored America",
He traveled all over the south, on trains,
talking to the people, gathering information.
Far ahead of his time,
and her brother loved Jazz and philosophy
and both had a spark of their grandfathers
forward seeing humanity.
I admired her concern for social justice
education and democracy
And how she would stand firm
Against the most repressive republicans.
I loved her liberal and caring spirit
her acceptance of not always following rules,
her generosity
her feisty refusal to submit
her love of animals
and her regard for the weak.
Whatever her faults, and there were a few.
She was one of those rare things
A good hearted human being.
 
A large part of her died when my father died.
That was 1973
And I thought the ocean would overtake her then
But she fought her way out of it.
and I helped her.
It took her years to recover.
I was left to care for her grief 
when her second husband died too
since her other children mostly ignored
or abandoned her.
Once again she fought back the invading sea.
 
Some who I knew criticized me
for loving her too much
But I will never apologize
for loving her good heart,
her generous mind and
her love of love and life.
She was not only capable of exalted ecstasy
but of the deepest grief
and in a culture that cultivates
drugging the range of human feeling
I loved her wide scope and ability to ride
the troughs and crests.
Besides, she lost her husbands,
she was alone, and I felt compassion for her.
 
Even when I moved away for a few years
I did not leave her
and missing her conversation
called her often.
She was not just my mother
but a friend of my heart
A lifetime companion.
We loved and cared for the same white dog
And she stood by me
When I was attacked
And faced my sufferings with me.
I faced her sufferings too
and learned how to soften her grief
making some peace with her sorrows.
She never quite got over the loss
of the man she loved
and the ungrateful neglect
of some of her other children,
especially the cruel malice
of her oldest and youngest sons
and the happy-face hypocrisy
of her daughters
who smiled sweetly as they betrayed her.
 
She loved gardens
And gave me a love of plants
And put a little green in my fingers
Teaching my hands the feel of soil.
When my father died
She condemned roses
And I doubted she would ever regain
The gardeners joy in life.
But it returned.
 
I stayed with Mom and Mother earth
And my siblings resented it.
She gave me the gift or understanding
and they hated what I came to know.
She gave me gifts and I gave her time
Lots of time and attention
running my fingers through her hair
caring for her as she lost her mind.
I became virtualfather to the earth that bore me
caretaker of the ground from which I came.
They were jealous of the garden we made.
They were lost in 
a landscape they did not understand.
They were lost to me, and to her
and they put her in a chemical straitjacket
so she couldnít feel flower petals anymore
or even recognize my face.
I now clutch flowers alone and
hold bird feathers to my eyelids for comfort.
I dream I see her flying
and I see her good heart
still glittering behind
her vacant and wounded eyes.
 
Imagine stealing your own mother's heart
and leaving her alone 
to wander lost from her mind
voiceless as a ghost with no hands.
I have become the memory of her broken heart
I am the hope of all that she loved.
 
Blowing sand in the dune grass
and the cry of white gulls
across the blue horizon
her lonely heart sought a land of love
even as she longed for the sea.
 
My mother helped me to weave
a coat of Many Colors,
not like the one Joseph wore,
in the Bible,
not ponderous with Patriarchy,
and religious delusions,
but a simple garment I wear my heart in,
made of the light of soft sunrises
and evening primrose.
It is a coat of earthy rainbows
the color of hummingbirds,
green transparencies,
an abalone shell,
and a white dog turned pale blue
by twilight.
My siblings hated the coat
and wanted to destroy it---
jealous as Joseph's brothers.
If I can help it
I will not let them bloody it,
or throw me in a well.
And if I can
I will drag her from the waters
they are trying to drown her in
and let her stand on the shore
holding an abalone shell
if only for a little while longer
so she can see the sea
from a clear distance, 
once again.
 
 

2002-2003

 

 

   

 

Copyright © 2002-07 Mark Koslow. All Rights Reserved.