by Janet I. Buck
Watch that Blue Jay on the fence,
tall green grass that’s grown a foot in just two weeks.
A curly, plush geranium the color of a pomegranate
getting ripe inside a bowl—I place them both
where suns rise near an eastern window,
letting light in fast enough to feed my hunger to survive.
I roll an orange in my hand, pretend an angel
or a ghost dropped that coin right on my bed,
to cheer me through the shadow days, bounce it
like a tennis ball—it feels rough and knows the ground—
it’s just the size of all my brittle memories.
Life is never what it was, but I can’t seem
to love the garden growing here.
Arthritis going after bones—shapes of all the dwindled disks
that run my back, cartilage I wore out like old underwear
each time I struggled with a step. It’s catching up,
seems too close to punishments I didn’t see ahead of me—
a six-car wreck from traffic jams, more than just ten bumpers lost.
My spine is now the corkscrew minus bottled wine.
No one knows how dark it is in cellars that I’m sitting in.
And I won’t spell this shade of black.
The moan, the groan, the pinching wince—
this evidence of bodies sulking in disease
that stirs my lover in his sleep—shrapnel from soliloquies
I never meant to read or write, let alone
admit out loud like barking dogs.
On telephones, I scale down the doctor’s news
to whispers of an issue here, an issue there, summarize
so much that truth becomes a misty fingerprint.
Then I stew and wonder why—no one worries how I am,
feeling obsolete and lost, planets in another orbit,
hapless and so discontent. I’m the ugly rubber troll
I played with as a little girl, never could quite fix its hair
or dress up legs that didn’t move, no matter
how much felt I cut, hours spent in sewing rooms.
I always tell them, “I am fine”—
to keep their eyes from seeing black banana peels,
bedsores brewing on a knotted shoulder joint—
their noses clear of musty piles of folded clothes
untouched or moved in dresser drawers.