Monday, June 18, 2007

Nana


Shrilly
we
twist into

life demanding
accommodation
the way an alarm

clock unwinds itself
into a dream. My
grandmother is

93, lying on
her side in the
nursing home she

hates, pink cluster
earring riding
shotgun on her

shrunken head.
I recognize her
by family photos

on the nightstand
beside her other
earring. Her dried

sunflower
grace evokes
my childhood home

far from
her
awareness

drifting
in and out in
tantalizing ways.

Imagine - Susan
a grandmother!
she beams on

waking. I am
26. Two unmatched
bookends bore

into my body
and the
baby clings

marsupially
in simultaneous
silence.

I wonder if
they feel a filial
connection to

this ancient sack
of deer antlers
startled

in our headlights.
How did you find me
here? she asks. I’m

sorry you have to
see me like this
and not as

I really
am. She went
peacefully

they tell me as
they make her
extinct with

Lysol and clean
sheets in her newly
vacant room.

They even have
the gall to say
she didn’t

suffer
but I know
they’re wrong.

The furniture
moved inside
her head,

landmarks
displaced by
smug professional

kindness as if
she’s no one
anymore. Such

annihilation
kills before
the body does.

Wife, mother,
grand and great-
grandmother gone

and I move up
a step in the
family

dance. We all
move up and
the music

resumes
and someday
we dream

silently out
of life if
we’re

lucky,
demanding
nothing.

32 comments:

seventh sister said...

Beautiful. My grandmother is almost 94 and in a nursing home that she hates. She sonders what she has done to have to live so long.

flutter said...

If we're lucky demanding nothing


gorgeous

EsLocura said...

this post reminded of an aunt who died many years ago, I brought beautiful sunflowers to her funeral because she loved them. The family thought I was nuts because it wasn't yourtypical funeral arrangement .. but so what I honored who she was, in my own way. lovely touching post.

goodthomas said...

This is fantastic, HinSF. Really, really lovely.

It was beautiful and sad and familiar and unfamiliar. Your use of words, the images are immediate and sharp, emotive and distant. I love the short breaths of words, the pulsating rhythm of words that keep pounding, moving forward. There are so many wonderful images here, fragments of images, but real and colorful and filled with dimension.

Hey, I did a grandparent piece today as well, though mine is a bit different. This is very nice, HinSF, very nice.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Seventh,

I really believe that nursing homes hasten ones demise.

Our society has much to learn from those that truly honor their elders, and don't sequester them away in their last years.

Flutter.

You are so very sweet.

Eslocura,

I love sunflowers, too, such bold, uncompromising flowers.

You honored your aunt as she would have liked.

Thomas,

I read your poem. It touched and chilled me with its beautiful imagery and emotion conveyed in so few words.

As always, your kindness is excessive. (I like that in a man.)

I attempted to speed up the rhythm to convey how we all rush toward our deaths, despite our best efforts.

It is difficult for me to translate my poetic view of life into poetry, but I love it so I will keep trying.

Ian Lidster said...

This was wonderfully exp
ressed. It's a keeper and it shows so much love and care and all that that entails.
In our crass society we sequester our elders and hope that they 'get on with it' and off the earth ASAP.
A beautiful expression of love, my friend.
Ian

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Ian,

Thank you, kind sir.

Our society suffers from a weird paranoia about the elderly, as if they are a contagious disease.

We should be smacked enmasse for our lack of humanity toward those who nurtured us.

Girl on the Run... said...

That was so beautiful. Thank you.

Grandmother's if we are lucky have such impacts on our lives.
All the best,
M

furiousBall said...

this is really great. both my grandmas are gone now, this was nice

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

This is beautiful... I got to read both Mr. GoodThomas' poem and yours today, they were perfectly paired... Nonno and Nana, well done.

This is almost tangible and very sweeping.
Really good work.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Maria Running,

Grandmothers are plain wonderful. And it has been said that grandchildren are the perfect kids, probably because they can be returned to their rightful owners when they get soggy.

Furious,

Why, thank you. I hope you got to enjoy and appreciate them while you had them.

Scarlett or Viaggiatore (I'm not sure who is writing the comments these days,)

I'm so glad you liked it.

Goodthomas is a wonderful writer, and his poem really blew me away today.

My Reflecting Pool said...

your good. I had to process this for a while. It brought me in so many directions. Thanks.

Open Grove Claudia said...

Oh shoot, I'm poetry challenged. I never get it. Sorry - I bet it's great though....

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Reflective,

Thanks for reading it.

Claudia,

I doubt it's great. Poetry for me is experimental while prose is much easier.

katrice said...

This is an outstanding masterpiece of a poem.

My grandmother will be 90 this year, so it strikes a chord. Thankfully, at this point she still lives on her own. And she demands nothing.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Katrice,

You're so very kind.

My dear friend who is 104 1/2 lived on his own until a few weeks ago, despite being totally blind and quite frail.

He was moved to a nursing home in Maryland recently, near his family. He is still, remarkably, in full possession of his great mind.

urban-urchin said...

absolutely gorgeous hearts. absolutely heartbreaking

Josie said...

Hearts, that's beautiful. Inside her ancient body there still lived a young girl, I'm sure of it. We all move up a notch, but inside we're still 18 years old.

Gorgeous poem.

Josie

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Urchin,

When my grandmother said, "I'm sorry you have to see me like this, and not as I really am," it seemed the essence of how the very aged think of themselves.

Josie,

You're always so sweet and supportive. And I think you're right - we are all still young in our own minds.

la cubana gringa said...

I'm sure your Nana appreciates your beautiful words.

xx

heartinsanfrancisco said...

La Cubana,

She was a beautiful lady, and I adored her.

thailandchani said...

Beautiful, of course... and a statement about how some cultures (ahem) treat their elders. You are so right about that.

Peace,

~Chani

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Beautiful. Wonderful reflections and insight. We are who we are and age does not change it - not our hopes, our dreams, ourloves. Thanks for reminding us all that the elderly are people too and we will soon enough join their ranks.

QT said...

Oh this made me tear up. My grandma, in the end, was 95, she kept saying how tired she was, just let me die. She never slept because she had night terrors that kept her awake. She raised me, and was like a mother to me. It was hard to let her go, but she wanted to die in her home country, which she did - far away from me.

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful poem. You are really quite talented.

jali said...

You've expressed your love and respect for great-grandma so well - you've expressed what I fear most of being great-grandma just as well. I want to be remembered as I see myself not as "the husk".

Applause!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani,

We live in one of the least humane cultures on earth, I think. We are unutterably cruel to our own elders, which is probably some kind of marker of how civilized a society is.

Squirrel,

I don't believe that people change, but become more themselves as they age. The physical changes merely disguise them unless we look carefully.

And as you say, soon enough, we ARE them.

Qt,

It must have been so hard to see your grandmother leave our shores, knowing that you wouldn't see her again.

I wonder if night terrors are common among the elderly. I hope not. It's a horrible fate, and I'm so sorry she suffered it.

Jali,

Nobody will ever think of you as "the husk." Really. You'll be able to whup ass forever, if anyone will.

She was my grandmother, my children's great grandma, mother of my mother.

Her name was Daisy, and she was both elegant and fierce, with beautiful, huge dark eyes and long eyelashes that she wasn't afraid to use.

Voyager said...

Beautiful. I love the image of stepping up a level in the family dance.
V.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Voyager,

Every time we lose someone of a previous generation, we move closer to our own ending.

The dance of life is beautiful in the abstract, but not when it's close to home.

meno said...

Wow. I have chills.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Meno,

Awwww.

eastcoastdweller said...

Evocative. Pathetic (in the classic, not the modern perjorative sense).

You are gifted.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Eastcoaster,

Thank you.

It has some rough areas. Perhaps I'll work on it sometime.

I have more confidence in my prose.