Never End


she sat on the couch, 
the smell of freshly popped popcorn laced with a faint whisper of strawberry shampoo filling the air around her, 
as her youngest daughter folded herself into her,
arms wrapping years around her small frame,
holding them in

she glanced from one side to the other,
catching her oldest daughter in a throw-your-head-back giggle,
and her husband with his face all smile and eyes bright with joy

and just like that,
she felt them all blow through her chest, 
simultaneously filling her to all her edges,
and turning her to dust 

God, she was happy,
happier than she’d ever been

and she never wanted it to end

-stock image via Pinterest

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How’d That Happen?


it tore at my heart like nothing I’d ever experienced,
watching my daughter’s youthful uncoiling dictate her moods and impulses,
confusion, pain, and fear up front,
and all I wanted to do was hold her close and comfort her,
shield her from the pain,
knowing I could not,
for that’s not the way of things

then, somewhere over the last couple of years,
something about her has slowly changed,
there’s this air of grace settling in her,
and I’m not even sure from where it came

some girls grow into womanhood gracefully,
and some remain girls all their lives,
but there it was, inside my daughter,
all of the sudden,
not a graceful entrance by any means, 
but a stealthy one

we’d just been standing there,
in the kitchen,
when she had smiled, and said,
“thanks, mom”,
and something shifted

five minutes later, I realized I could
still feel her voice filling my chest

for, it mirrored my own voice,
slightly lower and more confident than the voice I remembered her having,
and I found myself wondering when it had made its home in my daughter’s vocal cords,
in her spirit,
and why I hadn’t noticed it before 

she is all grown up,
a woman

wow

how’d that happen?

-image via Pixabay

Fifth of July

bang, pop, whoosh
sizzle, snap, crack
fizz, hiss, BOOM, BOOM

BOOM

in a haze, after the initial phone call, 
she rushed to be by his side,
tunnel vision guiding her there –
she couldn’t think, see, feel anything else,
nothing else registered, 
none of her surroundings, 
nothing at all

all she thought was – I need to hurry, 
I need to hurry,
I need to hurry

after the doctor had delivered the news, 
she stood there, stunned

in her peripheral, she could see the colors exploding in the sky just outside the large window next to his bed,
and it registered in her that it was the 4th,
the rumbling vibration of each detonation feeling as if it were exploding inside her

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

once she arrived home, 
though she’d desperately needed sleep, 
there was very little

she tossed and turned,
and tossed and turned,
finally giving in to it and getting up early, 
dressing and returning to him

as she walked down the stark, institutional green hall,
each step bringing her closer to seeing with her own eyes that which had been conveyed in words the day before, 
the weight of those words sunk like quicksand to the pit of her stomach

today, she was acutely aware of the clinical smell surrounding her, 
the smell of sickness, 
the stench of sadness filling first her lungs, 
then permeating outward, 
finding an unwelcome home in her veins, 
thick like sludge, 
coursing and thumping

she could hear the cries of sorrow in the bated breath wafting from some of the doors she passed,
she could taste its metallic tang on the tip of her tongue,
and as she arrived at the doorway of the room to which she needed to enter, 
she felt it in her bones,
in her marrow

when she opened the door, 
she became its embodiment

the few steps to the bed took her years:

she passed herself snuggled on his lap as he read to her for the millionth time, Put Me in the Zoo

she watched as she sat between he and her mother on the yellow paisley couch, 
as they tried to explain why they would no longer be a family

she saw the desperation on his face as he finally allowed her to call her mother,
but would not yet let her go home to be with her

she remembered tearing open the Christmas wrap to see the purple down coat she’d wanted so badly, 
the yolk-only egg sandwiches on Sunday mornings, 
and stove-popped popcorn with a rented movie on their every-other Saturday nights

she saw his suntanned, orange-tinted left arm that was darker than the rest of him from hanging out his truck window, 
his splashing in the pool and volleyball in the summer,
and helping her step-brother with homework at the kitchen table while he looked on drinking Pepsi from a two liter bottle

she remembered the wishing she belonged, 
that she fit with them differently, 
more

the coughing, 
she remembered the coughing that just kept getting worse, 
the constant handkerchiefs in his pockets and on the end table with his Winstons next to his armchair, 
the red-faced breathlessness and the wheezing,
the fear in his eyes

she remembered the devastating, life-altering heartbreak,
the disappearing and the wondering, 
the worry and the doubt,
the reconnecting and the doctors and the testing

and finally, the hope,
the hope which had fizzled away the night before with every sizzle and crack, 
hiss and bang and pop

standing next to the impersonal-feeling bed, 
she gripped the cold, stark metal of the railing with both hands, 
trying to take in all that she saw,
the blinking and the beeping in the semi-darkness, 
the machine whose trepidus noise filled the room

suck, push, suck, push,

SUCK, PUSH

eerily loud and unwelcome, 
it was reminiscent of the sounds heard outside the window the night before

her eyes ran the length of the shiny metal pole on which the machine was mounted, 
down to the swiveling wheels which allowed it to be maneuvered to where it was needed,
noticing the simple black cord which extended to the wall

how could such an ordinary-looking plug hold life in the balance?

letting loose her grip a bit, 
she became deftly aware of her own breath, 
in and out, 
of her own heart beating, 
ga-gong, ga-gong, 
so loudly in her chest that it rang in her ears

reaching out, she rested her hand on his chest, 
feeling the unfamiliar, robotic rise and fall,
deftly aware of the cool absence, 
the force of what would not be

she looked up, nodded her head, 
and closing her water-filled eyes, 
she felt with the length of her fingers, 
with the lifeline in the palm of her hand,
with her very soul

the robotic gave way to an arrhythmic slowing:

rise..fall….rise…..fall…….rise……..fall,

fall

beneath her palm there was only stillness,
in the tips of her fingers, 
there was only the thump of her own heartbeat, 
the trembling cry of her core

BOOM

and he was gone

-image via Pixabay; older prose made to poetry and shared as part of dVerse’s Open Link Night