The night before, we met again, to unsay
unbearable farewells, to see
our eyes brighten with re-strung tears.
O I had my sudden wish –
though I barely knew you –
to stand at the door of your house,
feeling my heartbeat calm,
as they carried you in, home, home and healing.
Then slow weeks, removing the wheelchair, the drugs,
the oxygen mask and tank, the commode,
the appointment cards,
until it was summer again
and I saw you open the doors to the gift of your garden.
There is something rather dizzying about this part of the poem. The ‘narrative ‘time travel ‘ induces a sort of vertigo and I feel disorientated by the situation or whereabouts of the poem. All that has been final, and finished in a literal sense, begins to unravel. The cinematic aspect of this reversal of linearity is reflected in the loosening of the syntax and the retracing of events so that the reader senses the poet’s shift from despair to hopefulness. How bravely the poet dares to recreate the pain of life’s ebbing away, and shocks the reader with the acknowledgement ‘though I barely knew you’ …how can this exist we ask in such an intimate poem, in such a palpably intimate relationship?
The poem then seems to widen its perepctive and hope, broadening the depth of the welcoming embrace offered by the remembrance and welcoming again the individual glimpses of the beloved mother, through the reanimating power of memory. Death’s restrictive ceratinites can be dismatled and here they are. All the machinery of terminal nursing disappears! How fresh and liberating the resonance of the ‘doors to the gift of your garden.’ It is a life affirming metaphor in itself!
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