In a far-away country, men, women, children trample each other, trying to board a plane. The odor of blood fills the air. I wander among the enormously wounded, the newly killed, then, stalled between the living and the dead, remember, I am in my kitchen, boiling water for ginger tea. When my end comes, I will become a dusty cloud, looking down on the shameful earth. See ruined cities whose names I can’t pronounce. A man drinks a cup of coffee, a woman bakes bread. There’s the tap of piano keys; a girl plays Schumann. The first blizzard of a new year arrives like the first snow of my life when my eyes opened in amazement. A grown-up’s hands lifted me to the window to watch. this glittering gift — delicate flakes, sparkling.
Letter to My Husband
My love, you left your running shoes on the closet rack. Forgive me, I gave them away. I am not suffering. I lie, a little. My hearing is getting worse. I cling to the railing when I walk down stairs. I have a terrible fear of falling down, alone. My front tooth fell out. Yesterday I changed two lightbulbs in the chandelier over our dining room table, congratulated myself on turning each bulb tight, stood in the artificial brightness admiring the metal with its black finish, leafy flowered decoration. The wounded sun is coming through the window. In the yard, squirrels chase each other. I know you can’t say a word, but nothing can ruin being alive.
Hanging Out with the Dead
Even the dead are growing old. I wonder what if feels like not to have a body. I dream of them entering the front door, their eyes glued to their cell phones. Perhaps they are buying stuff on Amazon. What could they possibly need? Maybe they called customer service and are on hold. Or are making airline reservations not caring if their flights are cancelled, having already reached their destination. The dead linger in the kitchen, eyeing the spinach lasagna I made for New Year’s Eve. I offer them a glass of sherry, forgetting they can’t eat or drink. Let’s have a party. Invite the neighborhood. We will cha-cha-cha to Latin rock. I feel the rhythm, me a lousy dancer. I close my eyes, clap my hands. When I open them, the dead are gone. The days are getting longer.
Carole Stone is Distinguished Professor of English, emerita, Montclair State University. She published five books of poetry, Traveling with the Dead, Backwaters Press, (2007), American Rhapsody, Cavankerry Press, (2012), Hurt, The Shadow, Dos Madres Press, (2013), Late, Turning Point, (2016), All We Have is Our Voice, Dos Madres Press, (2013). She received three fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts.