Saturday, November 30, 2013

honey I'm home

A winter's tale, could be the first in a series.  For context, see Time Management for the Bereaved Computer Programmer

       "Honey, I'm Home"

    Some big decisions 
are made in moments, one per day for months.  
    Here it comes again. 
Walk through the door into a darkened, silent place, 
    where she will never be again?  
Or veer away, a stone skipped off a pond?
    He'd hated it before,
in the house alone, even for a week.
    She knew this,
worried more for him as she grew weaker. 
    Typical Jean. 
She stopped worrying, and everything else, 
    eight months ago.  
Plus three weeks.  Plus one day.

    He does enter, 
notices a bookcase photo glowing, nods.
    She's with Anne
at a hospice courtyard picnic, last time ever out of bed.
    Her face, bloated by steroids; 
Her eyes, hollowed by tumor.  He’s puzzled. 
    What luminous about that? 
He flips through the deck of her virtues: 
    gentle, intelligent, 
stops at courageous.  That's the one.  She knew
    what waited for her.
She's looking directly at it.  

    Inspired, he tightropes 
to the kitchen, faces the fridge where
    she's pinned by magnets;
backpacking in college days;
    hair short after radiation,
staring down the camera; in Hawaii,
    smiling, confident,
two months before the tumor came back.

    Crouched by his food bowl, 
Clark meets his eyes, and for another glowing moment
    he thinks the cat wants to talk,
is concerned for his mental health.  
    Those fears are groundless. 
He fills Clark's bowl, opens the fridge, scans the shelves 
    for what won't need cooking. 
He wants to make it through the winter 
    without turning on the heat.  
No big deal, Alameda seldom freezes; 
    late January, 
the first blossoms appear.


  1. Your poem touches a reality of grief whereby a deceased loved one remains alive in image and memory. Very gradually over time, photos and memories may become so comforting that they are nearly equivalent to the presence of the one lost. Your poem persuades me that you are in the process of keeping Jean alive in your heart. Wherever she is, my guess is that your beloved wife is grateful knowing that first blossoms have even crossed your mind. Just as big decisions are made in moments, so, too, is healing. You and Jean had something special; going to the depth of your grief is the only way through.

  2. Your poem is really beautiful, Matt. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Cora, thanks for your kinds words, 'tho I would like to revise the poem someday -- BTW, Cora Choi is in my writing workshop at UCSF, publishes her writing online, and also has a blog you can read at