Ars Poetica (Vision 1)

10:13 PM in my apartment in Astoria.
Red couch. You slept here.
Dial (732)-349-0894
In my current life, the number no longer works
since your death on July 26, 2012.
Tonight, I imagine a different outcome
when I type in the digits.

“Hellllloooo!” you answer the phone
that familiar, friendly voice. It is glorious!
“Mom, you’re there! …
Listen, there is so much I need to say.
I am sharing your words, our story, on
stage. My goal is to self-publish your collection
of essays and poetry – maybe even our emails.”

“This is how it’s supposed to be, my Babydoll,” 
you respond. “I am delighted poetry is in your life.
I believe it brings us emotions,
and permits us to have those emotions.
Without poetry, there is not music.”

You wrote about losing your vision in your early twenties.

SOMETHING HAPPENED ON MY WAY THROUGH LIFE:

“Somewhere between Holy Angels Academy, college and Colorado
my good friend was lost. Sometime, between young adulthood, apartments for one
and middle age I grieved. Somehow, when I though nothing could happen to me,
a miracle believer, I lost my good friend.”

 (Vision 2)

Put away the blood glucose machine
the testing strips, lancets,
the needles, goodbye.

You worship the ocean.
We sit side by side on a park bench
Lavalette Beach, The Jersey Shore
Munching boardwalk fries
Without worry over Type 1
Blood sugar highs and lows

“Mom, it’s hard to do this without you physically here.”
I say this as I squeeze your soft hands, noticing the familiar stack
of bangle bracelets displayed on each wrist.
“You’re still like a gypsy, Mom, with your bright beads and Sterling silver."

We climb to the top of the sugary
Gypsum dunes at White Sands in New Mexico
We sip lattes and read Joan Didion essays
I pull out my notebook.
“Mom, I have our poems here about how we survived divorce.
You, as the wife. Me, as the daughter. ”

What He Left Behind:

I wrote:
He left behind more than
the customized sign that read
Harmony Bar out in the den,
a pantryfull of red enchilada sauce,
the amethyst ring my mother bought him for his birthday on Feb. 5th.

He left behind a life.
A wife and a daughter.
He left behind a past
Blended with lies he’d rather forget

Maybe that’s why we got stuck hauling out the garbage.

FINALE: 

Mom, you said:
This is the last poem I shall ever write about him .
Every good memory has been photographed, shredded, pasted and piled In the cardboard shoebox in the closet.
Once, a psychologist told me to open the box at a specific time, spread the contents on the quilt, and think.
“You need to set aside an hour for rememberings like this”.
Cry, rant, scream, tear and then return the box to its closet corner.
I do not want to do that anymore. I want him gone forever. He deserves nothing from me ever again.

My mom is still with me
On stage
In the chair beside me
On the page.

I see her.
I hear her.

My mom is not holding my elbow
when she walks with me to the Bowery Poetry Club on Sunday.
“Be brave, be bold with your own work, Chickadee. On this Monday decide
the world is an excellent spot to be in, alive and celebrating. Put aside the past for today,
and just take it out when it feels right.”

 

CELEBRATING SOUND

By Patricia Harmon

In the silent sun of Friday afternoon in Albuquerque, 
A doctor’s paper shoe -boots shuffled into my room.
He placed my fingers around the tiniest creature.
Noisy in this quiet was Jennifer Dawn.

In the miniature baby-box, surrounded by monster machines,
she moved like a sixties rock-and-roll dancer. 
Miniature mittens halted her hands from removing tubes. 
She longed to make her extraordinary noise in the world. 
 
Desperately, I needed to hear her and hold her. 
I was a blind mother with overwhelming fears. 
dramatic possibilities:  miscarriage, stillbirth, death or disappointments.
Miracles happened.  The music played on.
By Tuesday, tubes and restrictions were removed. 
This noisy infant was in my arms, screeching her song. 
Home, the alarm clock rang throughout long nights.
She slept through feedings, whimpering, sucking, breathing.

Sounds sang out in the silence of spring’s desert dawns.
I crawled on the carpet, alert for minor movements. 
She traveled by fanny, falling asleep in corners. 
In her bucket on the kitchen table, her mouth and mushed bananas inevitably met. 
“Yum-yum,” she mumbled, spiritedly, spitting a mouthful back at me.

“Momma!  Momma!”  she screamed excitedly,
running down the sidewalk outside my classroom.  
Her sounds were songs on sultry September afternoons. 
She grabbed my long white cane, imitating Momma.
When ocean waves knocked her down, I heard her comically rise, spitting and sputtering.
When she jumped from the fishing boat at Elephant Butte, I followed. 
  
She read to me from the beginning; books were music.
Today, we read in pubs, in New York City.
She reads her poetry and mine; we read together. 
Words have sounds, which move me.

On one April first, that first sound was a song, impacting forever.  
She still sings to me!