Bye, the Blankets Wave, 2007

1: For my mother, Dorothy,
who in grey mornings walked alone,
where bye, the blankets wave,
and blow;
a not so good good-bye for her, whose
spells a life in lowercase;
a normal life not on the news,
or Wikipedia page.

A plain old woman, her long life lived,
in service to the ones she loved—
in perfect selflessness she gave,
her never-ending love.
For the ones she brought to life,
her life for them was gave;
without a blink,
without a thought,
at God’s feet her life was laid;
for our redemption coupons paid.

2: Every Christmas, while she worked,
a hundred miles away—
at the mill, six days a week,
twelve hours every day,
in pain so we could play;
she did it still,
so we could feel,
happy with the red mesh stockings,
her employers gave away.
For her kids on Christmas day,
a gift was given by the mill,
just for working there.
She even spent that one day free;
we laughed without a care.
Every year on that day off,
our tiring mother shared,
a big red stocking full of toys,
so delicate and rare.

We got ping pong paddles, checkerboards,
candy, and other games.
None of those lifeless gifts compared,
to her smile which did not change.
On that rare and lone day off,
our tired mother played,
with us and her porcelain dolls,
the only things for herself she paid.
She had Scarlett, Gone with the Wind,
and Shirley Temple, too.
A thousand dolls, all shapes, all kinds,
Never to age, or hair go frayed,
pretty with us they stayed.

And I think, though with much pain,
on the day that fades her smile,
I’ll buy a thousand baskets,
for the dolls she loved a while;
and leave them on a thousand doorsteps,
no explanation with no note—
just like orphans left to grow.
I sometimes think she thought of us,
as dolls in her curio.

My brother and myself,
shortly after birth,
were left upon a doorstep, too,
to be adopted by our grandma, who,
gave all the love we’d ever need.
We always had enough,
each other, we still do.
Only if the dead could read,
I’d write a note to father,
who with Dorothy adopted me,
and simple it would say:
“Thank you for being better than,
my real father could have been,
had he not abandoned me.
Thank you for not leaving me.
As I will leave our mother’s dolls,
to be loved as you loved me,
unworthy of it all.”

3: Mother married, age seventeen,
so young an age, she’d say,
but she was faithful, every day,
and her care would never fade,
a reflection of compassion cast his way.
It all was real, and always was,
she loves the same today;
And every year, October fourth,
she leaves flowers on his grave.

With him alive, she often smiled,
at all he had to say.
Just two weeks before he died,
scrabble we all played.
The last piece on the board he laid:
same as my mother’s word, almost,
my father spelled closer.
My word confusion ran beside,
six letters down was laid an S,
whereby it my brother lay the word,
five letters, it was guess.

For half a life before my birth,
they loved, and danced, and smiled;
until he caught pneumonia,
and two weeks later died;
leaving us with an absence felt,
a man no longer there—
can be touched in dreams, almost,
in mind I see him there.

He’s warm again, and smiles, alive,
my happy mother by his side.
He asks if she will dance with him,
in this recurring dream I have;
she always shakes her head, says yes,
and puts on her wedding dress.
Peering through the window blinds,
I watch them dance a while outside.
And watch until my dream is done,
my father’s deathless encore sung.

After he went into the ground,
leaving sad faces all around,
my mother held her screams.
Until she got home, when all alone,
she at his portrait screamed;
so incoherent in her grief,
anguish for us to see.
“I would have gone instead of him,”
she often said to me.
A different road, we all must walk,
a million paths to the same place,
no good bye, the blankets wave;
though wave as slow she goes,
further down life’s obscure road.

4: After he left, she often sat,
in the living room alone;
up all night, she waited, quiet,
for her Herman to come home.
She never left, never went out,
often at the wall to shout,
those sleepless nights away.
And at dawn, she played their song,
and pensive walked her way.

In the morning, when she woke,
her children fed and bathed—
she puts on her garden hat,
and lonesome walks the shade,
a tiptoe down a leave strewn hall.
Checking plants at season’s end,
with Entae, her loving friend,
spent their mornings in the garden.
How often now she follows too,
those dim mornings, in the dew.
How often mother must have felt,
the specter of her cat with her,
a step behind her, keeping pace,
walking bye, where blankets wave.
Peaceful enough while walking slow,
take the cash in hand, let credit go.

5: By and bye, those blankets blow,
frayed quilts on the line;
she brings them in and folds them, neat,
and humming, takes her time.
When she’s done, her children eat,
if food is left, she’ll have a bite.
Happy and fed, her children sleep.
Relaxed, she sews, in quiet,
a modest quilt, with Nobles on it.
She grew up making clothes, like this,
and for us kids they always fit.
They unravel at the seams,
as do all the hopes, and dreams.
As father time unceasing walks,
people come and go;
and for each a blanket blows.

For Dorothy, they waved,
sometimes to just say hey;
as by she walked them every day.
When she came in,
took off her hat;
she tried to sit down and relax,
or play some game with us.
She never wrote the word desire,
on long life’s scrabble board,
just over and over and over and over,
love, love, love, love, love;
a few dolls here and there, enough;
herself no big concern.

6: One time, Easter Sunday,
we children got together,
to buy her a pair of shoes.
When we gave the gift to her,
embarrassed, she refused.
She asked to know the price,
and when she heard, she said,
“My old shoes are fine, enough;
Get something for yourself instead.”
“This is for us, as well,” I said. “When
you’re happy, so are we.”
When I was that naïve child,
I never saw the day,
when I would look so fondly back,
and have so much to say.

Those shoes she wore till they were rags,
in the house, and at the mill,
cutting high grass in the hills;
tending to tomato vines,
planting flowers time to time.
I’ve yet to see a photograph,
of mother by herself,
where she didn’t look so sad;
but in pictures with her family,
her expression was so glad.

A smile made possible by my father,
when mother’s killed himself;
and she’ll follow her lost loves,
and love like no one else.
She’ll follow them into the ground,
and get her rest at last,
no goodbye, the blankets wave,
in silence she walks past.

Blow, oh, blow, those blankets wave,
to those on long walks to the grave;
Bye, oh, bye, the blankets blow,
the bird of time rests on the vine.
When the blankets in the drawers,
have long been put in place,
the bird of time, once on the line,
flies in the air, away.

7: The Christmas fire, in the dark,
our shed was set ablaze—
our screaming mother, in her gown,
with a hosepipe sprayed.
Sometime after midnight, by herself,
she killed the fire—
and never asked for help.
With her hosepipe, and her will,
she did not wake us up.
Had we not heard her frantic shouts,
she would’ve had no help.
But our mother always fought,
the fire by herself.

The day after she woke on time,
to give our gifts, to see,
the only of her selfish joys,
her children full of glee.
Our family together, there,
gathered in good cheer.
Thanks to her, our family quilt,
has never had a tear.
Nor has it frayed, like mother’s hair,
or unraveled to this day.

All her children, grown up now,
still come to visit, play;
we’ll sit on our wooden deck,
and chat our days away—
happy to be together on another normal
Every gift for her, a doll,
soft porcelain, painted white,
with soft red daubs on painted cheeks—
her singular delight.
“Thank you,” she said. “I like them all.
I’ll put this one in the hall.”
So every morning, when I walk by,
I see those ageless angels cry.

8: A word almost, for Dorothy,
if ever were there one,
her synonym was radiance,
whose aura is the sun.
Made sublime, that smile,
when all the world was right.
That feeling, was itself, to me,
Sol’s eyes twice as bright—
too beautiful to know,
melancholy runs, and goes,
bye, oh bye, the blankets blow.

When one who gives, till they’re no more,
no more walks by newborn sun,
no wandering on the shore.
She sits instead, and nods her head,
in the living room, by the phone,
with a crossword in her lap, alone.
She hears the sound of childhood sleep,
their breathing sound a tranquil lull,
her perfect bedtime song,
and the loser loved them all.

The illegitimate Son, who set,
himself a thousand goals to prove,
they didn’t adopt a fool;
who now with letters tries to hide,
what lives outside the dressed up rhyme,
where the real world lay.
Where nothing special ever happened,
no prophet had to say,
nothing poetic, or profound;
a woman sleeping by the lamp,
smiling without a sound.

With the blankets folded, in their drawers,
her life’s purposed planned—
off to sleep she goes, and smiles,
and peaceful cups her hands.
Asleep before the loser with his pen,
who stumbled in the room,
to beg for pills, so not to feel,
too much pain to sleep.

Instead to find his Dorothy,
deservingly at peace.
A completed crossword, in her lap,
by a dusty bulb, to see,
the last word written in the blocks—
was thirty-nine across,
a six letter scribbled word, almost.

That was the key, that moment there,
that unlocked a door inside my mind.
I walk inside, and there I find,
King Oedipus Rex,
whose subtle complex,
in the Throne of all my Misery sat.
Made once the bastard child, who fell,
prideful in the arms of hell.
And like them lived, as lice to feed.
Giving fancy to his shame,
and insecurities;
in one breath, my mind at rest,
bye go my ego games.
There I attended, and awoke,
before Dorothy who had not spoke;
Then after that, I grew to be,
a bodhisattva wannabe—
who in his meditations know,
the meaning of the word almost.

Then for a moment, standing there,
I no longer had a care;
the strings of life for me aligned,
and for a moment, the divine,
put her holy lips on mine.
And all my life,
my wrong, my right,
flooded my eyes the color white.
Nirvana drowned which once was fire,
and my anxieties expired.

And all questions,
for which no answer came,
under a carpet labeled God,
I swept them all away.
There went the questions,
why need to know?
Outside of time, I seemed to go.
If I saw God, I’m sure I’d say,
“Thank you, God, for that one day,
when what you did, or said, for me,
was, “Let there be a Dorothy.”
Or if I spoke to Jesus,
I think that I would say,
“Better luck next time, my friend,”
smile, and go my way.

9: If only there I could remain,
and never again, see, hear, or say,
the normal things of every day;
I’d have nothing left to say.
But who am I to say, who sees,
his shadow on the page.
If only in nirvana I remained,
and never saw the problems of our day,
I’d have nothing left to say—
no more misery to sell,
and no more stories left to tell.

But who am I to say, who sees,
the sky a picture on the page for me;
something whose existence,
translated with my pen—
misery to beauty, so others get to see,
not as it is, as it’s described,
the things I see with my mind’s eye—
And if they can’t, let them prescribe,
a contact lens to see things clear,
as stoic as they are, so they can see,
that which is too beautiful for words.
Not through the windows with eyelashes,
but with the eye, that looks inside,
themselves and in there find,
what it is inside the shell,
a fragment of the universal self.

Would all our happiness compel,
the self our tragedies to tell?
The story of these beings who,
lived on this dot, pale liquid blue,
marble in rotation, around a candle light.
In what note could we for God remind,
the fondness we express for those our kind?
A fondness for our own kind we relive,
a brief excursion, caught in time,
between eternal states,
this too is a word almost,
to describe what can’t be seen;
not in reality or dreams.
Serene and tranquil sings the void;
no taxes, death, or bills to pay,
no telemarketers or days.
Just that high pitched ringing noise,
made when our ear cells die, and then,
becomes a sound not heard again.

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