There is no one I know writing anywhere who can transform the intimate moment into the epic breath with more quiet power than Rachel Udell.
This poem, so much about death, is alive and, yes, blooming, as is all her work for this ever present knowledge of the temporality of all things. It lurks under the surface of her words as if she is an ancient Alexandrian examining moments with a profound, almost otherworldly perception and clarity.
There's a link to Rachel on the sidebar under "Doodleblog." Otherwise here's a link to her site.
The doctor told her:
Stick around. I’ve never spoken with
A 100-year-old woman before.
She recounted this, smiling.
Her eyes said more.
The sounds that her family made
Reached through years and death
To wake me as a child
Chilled and sweating,
Running to my parents’ bed
To make sure they were still there.
That which burned up my faith
( yes, I once had it)
in the black and white
flickerings we’d watched one year, on
flourescent Tuesday and Thursday nights, in the
school attached to the synagogue,
right next to the township’s Gatorade soccer fields
(eyes and eyes and eyes and eyes
bones and bones and bones)
The piles have names.
The ashes, the stench:
her mother, her father, her brother.
In my chair I could only look at her,
Without words. This little enormous woman,
Whose past I now knew more about
Than my own grandmother’s.
She paints to forget.
The flowers before her
Alive but dying
Radiant, blooming, their days numbered.
Her brushstrokes, still steady, paint vivid reds and yellows
Into a second century.
I watch the paper thin petals emerge
In strokes on her canvas.
The real ones watch me, pleading with the crowded air of the nursing home for just
One more moment in the sun.