napowrimo #4 (and i owe you one)


Be the Air You Want to Breathe, and Other Foolish Holidays (working title)


Sitting on the side of your bed, trying to breathe
you say, “It’s good to see you.” I see your chest
shudder (trapped moths) beneath your white undershirt.
I breathe
for both of us. I see your hair is not combed (spider webs).
I breathe
tendrils of smoke from a neighbor’s chimney.
I see your empty water bottle, tissues like white mice on the floor.
Each time they ask, I breathe
for your lungs–twin beggars.

I see a host of gold ladybugs flank your watery blue
eyes, or is that the patina of lived long enough?
having looked into them or not quite at the pair
for so many years it is hard to see what is new

what is old. Only the painter hired to rip cabbage
roses from the front bedroom sees the peeling paper,

only the roofer shimmying past flaking slate sees the holes
beneath the tar paper—the rest of us too busy mopping
rainwater, trying to remember which one tried to fly
from the second story pitch with an umbrella in one hand.

I open the door as the stretcher breezes in and I see blue sky,
the tips of forsythia trying to take in enough resurrection
enough of what this day has to offer, to push their yellow
eyes past shelter’s thin shell
into oxygen’s invisible embrace.


5 responses »

  1. Wow. I don’t think it needs much. The last two lines are not quite right, but the thing is awfully damn powerful.

    (By the way, Jill, please lose “trying to write” from your blog title! There’s nothing even faintly amateurish about your work or your work habits. I wince every time I read that — it’s just so wildly inappropriate. If anyone counts as a serious poet, it’s you.

    There are plenty of people who will tend not to take you seriously because you’re raising children. Don’t for God’s sake, encourage them!

    Okay, just had to say that.)

    • we used to try to write. and now we really, really do. (for better or worse, we have egged one another on, whipped each other up into this frenzy.)

      i do see that your blog address is just “jillypoet,” so you COULD change the “mom trying to write” as often as it suits your mood. could be fun. 🙂

      i gave up polkadotwitch and who knows, after april, i may even give up maureen. maybe i’ll stand in my own flip flops for a while. 🙂 maybe not.

  2. i’m so proud of you for writing this in-the-moment. 🙂 really.

    i love the trapped moths and spider webs. you’re brilliant at metaphor and imagery!

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