Until

shallow focus of clear hourglass

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

 

Until she had nothing,

she thought she could go anywhere.

Kyoto beckoned on cobbled streets,

maiko hurrying to a party at twilight.

Lisbon unlocked the old quarter,

where Portuguese whistled on pursed lips.

Morocco, flat roofs under the stars,

sent the call of the muezzin on the desert wind.

 

Until she had nothing,

she thought she had the breath

to plan for a workshop in Italy,

to find a quaint B & B,

to choose which class,

collage or linocut?

 

Until she had nothing,

she imagined a villa on the Costa de la Luz,

a piso in Cadiz,

a condo in Las Colones

for a month, a season, a year.

 

Until she had nothing,

Until the doors closed,

Until the work of going

was greater than staying,

Until masks weren’t enough,

Until the asymptomatic were contagious,

Until the Ides of March turned viral,

she thought she had the time.

 

 

K.E.

Mushrooms at the Edge of Dread

 

closeup photo of white mushrooms

Photo by Ashish Raj on Pexels.com

(inspired by What Kind of Times Are These —Adrienne Rich)

 

At times like these

new fears emerge in the night,

like mushrooms.

 

At times like these

we wake in the contagious morning

to discover pale, sinister growths.

 

At times like these,

truth is a buried treasure

hidden under sand on an uncharted island.

 

At times like these,

we guess and guess and guess again.

What is safe? What is holy?

 

At times like these

we hide and wait for the cure,

but will all be required to take it?

 

At times like these

touch is precious medicine.

Everyone should have a hand to hold.

 

At times like these,

living at the edge of dread,

only burnt offerings can please the gods.

 

Kim Ellis   7-23-20

The Wrong Poem

I am not wrong. Wrong is not my name.
– writing prompt from June Jordan 

 

An old boyfriend of mine once asked me, “What would be the defining phrase of your life?”

 

 

My name is not wrong.

My name is not good enough.

The pink eraser is there

on top of the pencil,

but if I use it,

I am not good enough.

 

The algebra twists me

into paroxysms of wails

x is unknown

y is imperfect.

I am not A or B, but

my C is wrong, and

I am not good enough.

 

The big father raises his eyebrow

when I say what I know.

He doesn’t like what I know.

He says I can think it

but I can’t say it

because my truth is wrong, and

I am not good enough.

 

The yogi man and his ex-wife

tell me how

to bring back a slackening brain,

to fight the blackening blankness,

with COQ10 and mushroom powder,

exercise and cortex power.

Even if I do all they say, all day,

every day.

I will still be

not good enough.

 

NGE

Where Sorrow Resides

sorrow

Years ago I read that sorrow affects the lungs.  The idea remained buried in a back drawer of my mind.  Recently, though, I’ve had cause to unearth this notion while dealing with a persistent health issue.

In December, while vacationing with my husband in California, I caught a bad cold.  Normally I would rest at home and kick such a virus in a few days.  My illness was exacerbated by an upended routine, long days of travel, and demands to be present for West Coast family gatherings during the holidays.

Three days before our flight back to New York, I realized that it was more than a cold.  My chest felt like it was imploding.  At the local urgent care I was given a “Z-pack” for bronchitis.  Things got a little better until the flight home, when the symptoms got worse. Back I went to another urgent care on a Sunday and was given another antibiotic.

Eight weeks later, I was still wheezing and tired, with stuffed sinuses.  The ENT specialist that I visited said I had a sinus infection and–you guessed it–gave me a third round of antibiotics.

The point of this narrative is this: in Traditional Chinese medicine, lung illnesses are connected with grief.

cycle of creation

ottowaholisticwellness.ca

I’m a grieving spouse, having lost the future I’d imagined with a spouse who is no longer the person I married.  Although I keep active and engaged with caregiving and many activities, I live with an underlying river of sadness, that springs up into my eyes often, sometimes with the slightest surprising provocation.

Grief  must be expressed to let it go.  We can’t measure the severity of loss with instruments, but only by how strongly it is felt. Unexpressed grief harms the lungs.  Coupled with the all the other emotions that caregiving can produce (fear, anger, guilt–see above diagram), caregivers’ health may be threatened.

So how do caregivers cope and keep illness at bay?  Exercise, meditation, support groups, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)*, time with friends, religious practice: all of these help me stay healthy.

lungs in chinese medicine

 

The website below was enlightening.

https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/philosophy/the-emotions/grief-the-lungs/

*more about this in another blog