Into White


It’s complicated.

I think of her lying in bed alone,

ridged shit-stained fingernails

and the blue bulge of veins under translucent skin;

bony hands curved inward, silently cursing agility

they can no longer manage.

 

Silk lily of the valley embedded in white porcelain;

a Christmas gift from me,

daughter distant as a morning star.

Gazes at them blankly, even fondly,

appreciating, perhaps, their lack of need

at a time when she cannot caretake;

tending blossoms instead with her eyes.

 

Flowers that remain open like she never could,

not bending slender alabaster necks

just to wither and drop away;

no reminder of where she, herself is headed.

Angry at memories, pushing them aside,

currying instead morphia’s favor.

 

Don’t ask me to account for anything,

she seems to say;

Let me close my eyes at last,

into that blank slate of white.

 

9 comments on “Into White”

  1. A touching portrait. I hope you don’t mind my reposting it.

  2. This is very well written.

  3. I knew this woman. Well, maybe not THIS woman, but…. In a sad way, it was nice to see her again. Wonderfully resonant, makes my grey head worry that the experience is so…uh…ubiquitous.

    • I believe there are many such elder scenarios, especially in my parents’ generation. My hope is that subsequent generations who have a bit more breadth under their hats, so to speak, will feel and act differently as they leave this precious life – perhaps with more gratitude for what has been and openness to the next adventure. But only time will tell.

      I’m not sure my mom’s experience is ubiquitous, but I do believe it is far more common than most admit to. We don’t want to speak ill of our parents; of the elderly or the dying. Yet in the telling, does it diminish the love I felt for her? Not at all. Instead, it simply gives others permission to see more clearly what they didn’t talk about at the time. Such suffering; trucking the very same burdens on their own backs! So sad. And I think this is part of their grief – the unending regret that somehow she didn’t turn out differently, despite their best intentions and efforts. Yet I’m at peace with it. She was who she was – like most of us, far more complex than we’d like to give her credit for. She was an amazingly artistically gifted woman, who, for as long as I can remember, only wanted out of this life and into a ‘better’ one, as her religion so egregiously taught her.

      Peace, and thanks for visiting.


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