Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Cruel Trick"

Mother, you gave me everything:
life, love and all the landmarks
of my moral landscape.
But I stand empty-handed and heavy-hearted
with no talisman
to ward off your unseen adversaries.
You know what I know:
that your memory is failing,
chipped away by turns, small and fragmentary.
I cannot “make it better” by kissing away
your suffering as you once did mine.
Like some Mongol Khan in the ebb of his empire,
confusion has crept under your tent-flap
and you wake to find its clammy hands
around your throat.

Your husband had an almost perfect death,
a couple of months of physical frailty,
his mind clear, his spirit accepting,
crossing the threshold through sleep,
his last sight that of the woman
he had loved deeply for fifty years.

This I wanted for you:
the life in full flame snuffed quickly,
not this cruel trick
of knowing your dignity is decaying
and waiting for a merciful exit.

POET'S NOTE: The movie star, Bette Davis, once said: "Old age ain't for sissies". I think she knew what she was talking about.


  1. A carefully worded and observed poem. The changes faced here -- the inevitable decay and the longing for mercy -- those are intensely felt.

  2. Love the line 'confusion has crept under your tent-flap'. Perhaps she is giving you one last gift.Handing you the reins. Your poem shows her much tenderness...I hope you are able to read it to her. Thanks for sharing with us.