napowrimo day 29

by larapayne

I started this two weeks ago, and it still doesn’t say all I mean it to, but it fits, for today.

impermanence

We gather belongings around us
as if they will protect us. On the metro car,
almost every person looks down, as if in prayer,
wearing multiple layers, feet are more booted
than shoed. A deluge of rain and wind
swept almost all of the petals
from the trees, and we’re still shivering
from the 40 degree temperature shift. Once,
my grandmother mentioned liking
the way a pair of shoes looked,
I suggested she buy them, she replied, I already have
a pair of brown shoes. I wanted two things in that moment:
for her to treat herself to a second pair, and for myself
to be able to be that content. We all went to say goodbye

to her two years ago. She’d stopped eating
solid food and the doctors told us she might go any day now. Each time
she has moved, a few of us have gathered to help clear out her
belongings and pare them down to fit a new, smaller space. Our
umbrellas were flipped inside out and ripped,
as we left the museum. The only response to such wind
was two fold: run, and laugh. Everyone around us
did the same. Sometimes that’s how a day goes. It starts with you
rubbing lotion on your sunburnt shoulders and ends with you wrapping

an extra blanket around your child. How can I do this, how can I let go
of these things I think I may need? As we walk back up to the ground
we find a tree still in bloom, protected by a wall. Every
part of it covered in rain. Petals puddle along every still place. Look
at the tree: bark cracked with age, the limbs gnarl and turn. We love them
in other seasons, but never so much as right now,
at the end of winter. They promise a moment
of pure beauty. A hush descends under their boughs. We may

hope that this train contains the same clean silence,
as almost every person looks down. Our umbrellas
continue to shed water.  My grandmother continues
to live. My father diminishes every day. Even as they descend
into some unrecognizable place, their mind glimmers
free perhaps only once every day, reminding us of who
they were. Is this where hope lies? In the impossible
continuance of someone you love.

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