Weeds, and More Weeds (Written July 27, 2018)

Weeds, and More Weeds

Everything is dry. The garden
struggles
to stay alive, even with constant
watering. The grass has stopped

Growing, for now, and to the west
wildfires
have forced many people from their homes.
Rain sometimes falls on us, but briefly,
almost nothing since the beginning of the month.

The sudden, intense downpours feel like
the almighty’s
none-too-subtle jest. The earth
forms a crust which keeps the water
from penetrating to the roots of the plants.

The herbs, as they mature, turn brown,
wilt
and fade. The sunflowers are smaller
than expected. The tomatoes are about
the size of walnuts. Weeds prove hardier,

And more plentiful — sorrel, pennywort,
mullein,
hedge mustard, stinging nettle, tansy,
bladderwort, goldenrod, and feathery
horsetail, among others. The bird baths

Have to be scrubbed and re-filled
every second day,
the birds use them so frequently in this heat.
Hornets and wasps drink from the water.

Then Let It Go (Written July 20, 2018)

Then Let It Go

Now that she’s found a solution to all
her problems
she feels she can begin to live again.
Everything that was dull, monotonous,

Not worth the effort, now has
new life,
new sparkle, new promise, enough
to make her want to get up
out of her chair, look around, and ask

What is there to do now, in the short
time
I have left. Birds die before they know it,
but they go on singing, with no
hint of the fate that awaits them.

Even the crow cawing is not complaining,
but seeking
refuge in companionship. Roses burst from
the rosebush like exploding galaxies,
then die away, in the knowledge

They will come again, when the time
is ripe.
Dogs bark to let her know they are still
here, needing food and comforting.
Everything reminds her of earth’s

Bounty, and if at times she thinks about
death
it is with her newly won sense of equanimity.
Death is not a battle, not a massacre,
but joining with the rhythms of nature.

This life is the only one we know and
the only one
we need to know. It is precious,
tend to it, then let it go, like the roses.
Actions she once thought closed to her

She now finds possible. For example,
she might call
a friend, one she has not seen in months,
arrange to meet for coffee and talk as of old.

She’s Busy Now (Written July 13, 2018)

She’s Busy Now

She’s busy now trying to remember
the names
that go with the photographs
she’d like to copy and send.

She remembers the faces, and what
she wants to say, but not
the names. She keeps drawing a blank.
Try as hard as she might,
she can not remember the names.

This photo, yes, this one, she used to know
very well.
The name starts with an “F.” Maybe
Frances, or Francine, but no, neither
sounds right. She blames it on herself.

On her faulty memory. Everyone she
once knew
she’s busy now forgetting. At times
she’s able to catch a glimpse, a hint,
a fragment that flees from her

The moment she turns to look at it.
So many of her friends
are dying, one after the other, from one
illness or another — cancer, heart disease,
diabetes, kidney failure, depression,

You name it. Sometimes she shuffles
the photos
and the face that comes out on top
she’s not looked at or thought about
in years. But the name remains hidden

In some dark corner of her brain,
complete,
indestructible, but beyond her reach,
like the ripest apple on the tree.

Hot and Humid (Written July 6, 2018)

Hot and Humid

She washes out her shirt and hangs it up
to dry,
using a clothespin to fasten the hanger
to the clothesline. With the hot sun

And steady wind it should be dry in an hour,
she hopes,
in time to wear to our friend’s house for supper.
All day she’s been fighting the hot and humid
weather, and fighting me because I do not

Want to run the air conditioner non-stop,
worried
we might overload the electrical circuit and risk
a fire. If you’re trying to kill me, you’re doing
a good job of it, she cries, to which I have

No reply, other than get the air conditioner
set up in the window,
ready to start again. She lies on the bed,
with the fan turned on high, which, as she
rightly complains, does little more than move

The hot air around. She sleeps an hour or so,
then gets up,
wobbly, unsteady on her feet, and tries
one shirt after another, until she finds one
she likes, washes it and hangs it out to dry.

While she showers I get the air conditioner
going again,
though I’m still convinced my worries
about the wiring are well-founded,
for it’s a circuit that includes, in one room,

The air conditioner, the clock radio, the fan,
and the overhead light,
and in a second room the computer, the phone,
and the overhead light. If one of these outlets
or switches dies, they will all die.

There is some comfort knowing we have
a smoke detector,
two fire extinguishers, two easy routes of escape,
front and back, and if we have to, we could
climb out the bedroom window onto

The roof of what we call the mud room
and wait
to be rescued, though perhaps at our age
that’s not a very practicable alternative.

It’s Later Than You Think (Written June 29, 2018)

It’s Later Than You Think

Her friend, eyes narrowed and lip curled,
says nothing
but she doesn’t have to. Everyone knows
what she thinks. It would be foolish

To put more money into repairs
and improvements
when it’s possible, even likely
that the person who ends up buying
this old house, built as it is on such

A shaky foundation, will want to
tear it down
and build something more sturdy,
more modern in its place, for example,
a three story clapboard, with six condos

And a dental clinic to service an aging
population.
Time moves on, she’s quick to add,
ticking our lives away day after day.
People grow anxious, and they want

Something new, even if it is the
same old thing,
as monotonous as prairie grass.
It’s all in the name of progress,
she laughs. Progress means you look

Beyond the here and now, towards
the invisible future,
where things will be bigger and better.
It means you are never content
with the way things are, but always

Want the latest, the shiniest. And even if
that future
proves to be illusory, you will still have
the satisfaction knowing you played the game.