Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Uneasy Relationship With The Gods

Here is a poem that tells a story
From the youth of Rusty Pliers.

Listen if you want, 
And be entertained.

Don’t listen if you don’t want,
And remain as you are.

It’s all the same to me.
I get paid either way.

This poem is dedicated to a dear one
I knew many years ago.

I stole parts of this story 
From her life.

The rest of it, I admit, 
Is pure…

Rusty Pliers.

One day when I got home from school,
I found my mother 
On the kitchen floor.
She was moaning and she’d wet herself.

I called 911. 
They told me to be brave, they’d be there soon.
Then I called my dad at work.
He told me the same thing.

This happened a long time ago,
In a place called Los Angeles, California,
That we’d just begun to live in.
My father, my mother, and me.

I was eight years old.

It seemed to take forever 
For the ambulance to arrive,
Waiting on the kitchen floor,
Holding my mother’s head in my lap.

Sunlight streamed in 
Through the window above the sink 
That gave out to the garden.
Mom’s garden. 

Her special place,
Filled with flowers and sunshine,
And of course, her being her,
Filled with love. 

She made a noise and I looked down. 
She stared up with wild, pleading eyes 
And painfully gurgled something, 
I don’t know what.

“What is it, Mom?” I asked.
She didn’t answer, 
But lifted her hands
And reached out

For something that wasn’t there.

Or at least, for something I couldn’t see.
“What is it, Mom?” I asked again,
Not knowing what else to say,
What else to do!

Then she dropped her hands 
And went quiet…
While I rocked her gently
And waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Oh! How I wish to this day
I’d understood what 
She was trying to say 
In that terrible moment!

Do you find it funny,
Ye gods above or below?
Did it give you a moment’s amusement,
You pitiless self-satisfied cannibal bastards,

To torment a little boy 
While he held 
His dying mother 
In his arms?

Fuck You!

The ambulance men finally arrived.
They told me I’d done good,
But now I had to get out of the way
While they helped my mom. 

They gave my mother medical attention,
Then they bundled her
Into a chrome-plated gurney
And rolled her away.

My dad got home after they’d left.
Boy! Was he upset!
He helped me get some dinner started,
Then went right to the hospital.

After that, Dad spent a lot 
Of time at the hospital.

Not me.
I only visited Mom a few times.
Dad made me go, 
But I hated it!

She wasn’t herself anymore.
Her hair had turned white
And she chewed her tongue stupidly
While gazing out with sightless eyes.

Her hand in mine 
Was cold, unresponsive.
She didn’t even know 
I was there.

About eight months later, 
Mom passed away in hospital, 
While at her side my father prayed and wept.
She was thirty-one years old.

I cried too, at the funeral,
Holding my father’s hand
In the big church he attended.
(Children weren’t usually allowed 

In the big church 
With the grownups.
We children attended Bible School.
But that’s a poem for another time.)

I stood beside my father 
In the big, unfamiliar church,
And I couldn’t help myself…
I cried and cried.

I wanted my mother. 

Grownups approached us from the golden pews
And kissed or shook hands with my father.
Then they patted my head, saying,
“Don’t cry, little Rusty.” 

They all said the same thing.
How much I was growing up
To look like my mother…
And how it was a blessing she was dead.

They said she was in heaven now,
Free of pain and sorrow,
Seated at the foot of god.
Or maybe the hand of god, I forget.

“It’s god’s will,” they added,
Nodding to themselves.
“His will be done.

That was easy 
For them to say, 
I thought,
She wasn’t their mother.

As to god’s will…
Can any mortal truly say?

No comments:

Post a Comment