To My Friend, Far Away
An ocean between us
yet we are good friends
When the moon waxes full
she bays at its glowing face
as do I, and full-throated
Tears river and splash
trenching at her feet
Hope glimmers, but
still out of reach
The jungle of her thoughts
She must break through
Soon creamy silken signs
will meet her waking eyes
Be still, I murmur from
across the continental divide
Let it flow
Let your vulnerability
become your strength
I believe in you
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Written for Ed Pilolla’s “Get Listed” prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads; I think I got about 15 words in, only because his list had a certain flow. My friend will recognize herself in this poem, I hope, and draw comfort from this humble toad. Peace, Amy
First, I’d like to congratulate Laurie Kolp and Beth Winter for joining the Pretzels and Bullfights arena at dverse poetry. Both are wonderful, warm, talented women, and they will no doubt present us with challenging prompts! I am adding this to the dverse Open Mic Night in their honor.
Healing and Healing
“But Aunt Nelda, God didn’t answer my prayer.”
And your prayer was…?
“I prayed for my mother to be healed.”
And what happened?
“She woke up one day in hospice – and,”
the boy breaks down in tears, tears hard won in a world that
doesn’t afford males the luxury of such a balm.
“She was talkative, told me to stay in school,
reminded me of the walks we took in the forest,
pressing dried autumn leaves, all sorts of stuff.
Must have been hours, all about how I should
go to college and not decide my major right away,
that I should dabble with everything until
something catches me by the throat and won’t
let go! Funny, I’m only in eighth grade. Oh, and
the year she helped coach my baseball team, even though
she was the only mom to do that in the whole league. I
was embarrassed then, but I told her that day I was
so proud of her for doing it. I told her she had balls,
and she laughed so hard!”
“She seemed so well that afternoon, we thought she was
making a comeback, and that night I got on my knees and
thanked God for healing her. The next day, she died.”
Are you angry with God?
“Damn straight. Really pissed. I don’t give a shit about God
anymore. He didn’t give me what I needed most, my mom.
First, He made her suffer with the cancer, the chemo, the
radiation, and then he didn’t let her live.”
What do you think your mom needed?
“Well, healing, coming home, taking care of Dad, seeing
friends. Like it was last year.”
Honey, listen to me.
There’s healing and there’s Healing.
The first, you come home from the hospital, back to
the way things were for the most part, until the cancer
returns, as it often does, and you go through all the pain
and suffering and indignity all over again, until eventually,
your body gives up.
The second, you go home to God.
It’s called the Final Healing.
Your mom went through three rounds with the cancer, and
she didn’t have anything left to fight it. But one thing
God did give you was one last day to talk. It was her way of
saying goodbye, giving you the best memories as a gift.
Don’t blame your mom; she didn’t give up. And yell
all you want to at God, because God has the
widest shoulders you can imagine. God’s giving you
the gift of tears right now.
“So she was healed… but not in the way I wanted?”
Hon, we pray to God for all sorts of things, and
you prayed for your mother to have the best. It
wasn’t what you expected, but remember this:
Your mom doesn’t hurt anymore, doesn’t cry out
in her sleep from pain at 2 a.m. And she left with us
her greatest gift to the world – you.. You hold her
stories, you have her eyes. And trust me:
One day, you will know that God loves you.
Even when you yell and swear at him, God
still “gives a shit” about you. I know it.
So go to a counselor, here’s a card. After my mom died,
I screamed into pillows at my therapist’s office.
Sean, it was cleansing and it healed my grief.
So go ahead, rail at God, and you’ll do fine.
C’mere and give your auntie a hug…
and I dare you not to let go first.
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
A New Day
Eyes closed, sensing first
the warm salt air of San Juan
The scent of jasmine potpourri
now fills my head pleasurably, sensually
A salamander dink, dinks her way
up the white plaster bedroom wall
Baby’s still asleep
Eyes open, I am reminded I had
the whole bed to myself last night
The room is lacquered that antiseptic white
that screams: RENTAL
A crystal hung in the window
catches a sunbeam and pitches it
from ceiling to mirror and onto my bare toes,
and I laugh out loud.
Then I burst into tears.
It’s been years since I woke up smiling,
even though mornings have always
done their best to cheer me up.
Through the tears, I manage a smile –
baby opens the door, climbs on the bed,
pats the vacant pillow and looks at me
like a curly-haired question mark.
“Daddy’s gone for a while, but
we’re gonna be fine, mi nena.”
I take her in my arms and we snuggle on the big bed.
© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil