Happily Never After


Ford Pickup Truck

Image by Kay Gaensler via Flickr

Don’t miss today’s post at dVerse Poetry Pub http://dversepoets.com/  Luke Prater and Julie Watkins host an enlightening conversation about writing to important themes and invite us to post a poem for constructive critique. Such a great opportunity to grow as poets!

Happily Never After

Grandpa Ed struck a claim in Gold Country
when he was seventy-one years old.
Twenty-two years later he lost his vision
and his driver’s license.
Nobody had time to drive him anywhere
so he sold his red Ford pickup and died.

Mom met with us kids,
to explain how they’d freeze her body
and put her in the same hole as daddy.
She’d get to be on top for a change.
The surprise happened a few months later
when we buried my sister instead.

Last month in the desert, a pair of mourning
doves awakened me too early every morning.
Their cries reminded me of all I couldn’t have.
The last day I saw a mound of gray feathers
in a grove of trees. A rainbow filled the overcast sky while
the crow in a low-hanging branch looked satisfied.

Today I sat across from my friend at lunch.
She told me her husband was in a wheel chair now
and asked about
the early symptoms of dementia.
“You better get Power of Attorney,” I told her.
“Everyone who needs it has a copy of mine.”

It won’t be long now, I’m afraid,
before we have to put the dog down.

Don’t miss today’s post at dVerse Poetry Pub http://dversepoets.com/  Luke Prater and Julie Watkins host an enlightening conversation about writing to important themes and invite us to post a poem for constructive critique. Such a great opportunity to grow as poets!

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26 thoughts on “Happily Never After

  1. So powerful and beautiful. Sad? Well, yes, maybe, sort of but that is not what first struck me. The truth of it struck me, the reality of life and what it is. Death is a part of it, one of the most emotional parts of it of course. Your poem is so incredibly dual edged… death by itself is not sad. Those doves would have died anyway without your knowledge of it. Your grandfather, had he been someone else’s grandfather would have died as a stranger to you without your knowledge. These things happen everyday around the world and in life we must come to accept it, just as your friend Jamie said, “Such is life.” The sad part comes in the relationships we share with our loved ones, people and pets, who pass on. Your scenarios implied a certain sadness of that, I think, but you didn’t let it overpower your overall presentation; you kept it dry and matter-of -fact. And that to me is so true to life, so true to the dual nature of things we must swallow, the immense sadness we occasionally have to stick under our belts and melt into us, but not allow to overbear us. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the energy or desire to discover an incredibly lovely poem like this one that you shared with us. Thank you for doing that, it is a complete pleasure reading your work. And I’m looking forward to reading much more of it also………. thank you for inviting me into your beautiful world…. And my condolences are with you for the incredible losses you must have suffered, and for your friend as well…..

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  2. klrs09 says:

    I really enjoyed this poem, and the ending just kind of hit me right between the eyes. Well done.

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  3. Jamie Dedes says:

    Such is life. So very well done, Victoria. Lessons in non-attachment. Thanks for the reminder.

    So sorry about your pup, Victoria. They are so innocent and trusting. Never an easy thing to do.

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  4. ALIVE aLwaYz says:

    this was so sad, death has no escaping but it’s rather more painful when you are on the sidelines capturing every who ruins.

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  5. David says:

    Victoria, this is wonderful poem, poignant yet sophisticated in its oblique treatment of aging and dying, with just the right touch of humor.

    The complex image that ends stanza three includes a crow, a low hanging branch, a rainbow, and an overcast sky. I’d suggest streamlining that image by trimming one or two of those elements. Think of what you really mean to say with the idea of the crow’s satisfaction, and then hone the image to convey that thought.

    I really like this poem a lot. Well done!

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    • Thanks for the suggestions, David. It probably is a bit much…three images. The thing is: it’s all a true part of my experience–the whole poem. I will revisit it, though, since poetic effect is primo.

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  6. So much sadness. So much death. I’ve had 2 friends die in the past few months. I keep expecting a third.

    Ascot is such a great name for a dog. Peach, our shih-tzu will be 14 this fall. Still in good health, but you know she can’t but a few years left with us. I cry inside already when I think of her going.

    You certainly DID leave it drawing me in from the start.

    I chuckled at the line about mom being on top at last.

    Now, I’m going to surf your site for a graphic I like for a sidebar button for you.

    xo

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    • It’s so hard to face the short life of our pets. Ascot was 16 when we lost him. He was a Jack Russell and shih-tzu, like the JRT’s have a good long life expectancy. Wonderful breeds. We now have two rescues–a JRT/Doxie mix and a Papillon. They are probably about 3 and I still hate the thought of losing them.

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  7. Debbie Dawnslight says:

    your write is so matter-of-fact, yet somehow haunting. I think it’s perfect and surprising.
    ~Thank you for sharing!

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  8. Gay says:

    I don’t have much to add to what others have said. They seem to have some ideas you could noodle with but I like the poem very much as is. It’s as though you have opened a window into your life and let us peek in.

    I wouldn’t change the bit about the dog; but I think I would name it. I lost Sam the cat, as everyone knows, last month. I had him since he was 6 weeks old and he was nearly 20 when I had to put him down. It broke my heart. He thought he was well enough to come home from the vet and I had to pet him and leave with an empty carrier. Of course losing a pet you’ve had that long just deepens the loss of human family members and foreshadows our own death.

    Very intense and poignant write, Victoria.

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    • It is so hard to put a beloved pet down. We did have to do that with Ascot soon after I wrote the poem and then another two months later. I’ve chosen to leave it a bit ambiguous, thinking it might bring to mind other pets for the readers and hit a chord of universality. Thanks for your comments, Gay.

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  9. Umaa says:

    Ah!Sad …happily ever after transformed into happily never after ….you had points in your poem that brings more deeper meaning.

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  10. David King says:

    I found this very moving. I shall return some time to be more analytical, but for now I’m content to be moved.

    I have had a look at Billy Collins’s “Lanyard” (particularly) and found that very moving also! It took me back to an incident in my childhood.

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  11. Claudia says:

    just love this victoria…starts with the title and an excellent write throughout..you approach this topic in such an everyday, colorful, natural and “dry” way that i think it’s just pure genius..

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  12. jenneandrews says:

    This is terrific– wonderful detail, moving and a sprinkling of wit as well. The line about your dog seemed a bit anticlimactic– the poem seems to want some kind of insight/closure to the preceding experiences to me– xxxj i’m at http://parolavivace.blogspot.com . xxj

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  13. This was a sad one. I think the dog just ’bout put me over the edge. But it’s the telling that captivates, your honest sharing of what goes on in all-to-real families. We all face mortalitiy – some, like Ed, too soon. Some, unexpectedly, as when Mom seemed to be the one to go and then the sister beat her to it. All these are the threads that weave a family’s history.

    Great poem, best ending. So real, so human. Thanks, Victoria. Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/three-prompts-three-poems/

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  14. Sharmishtha says:

    splendidly written. sad but very vivid.

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  15. Kim Nelson says:

    You led me to questions, then answered them… until the end. I was left wondering about inference and metaphor. But then I realized, that was your goal! You are teaching us to deal with death in all its forms, in all its inevitibility. Well done.

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  16. bmackenzie says:

    I know I have read this before…I know because it is so good….and stuck with me…love this piece so much reality…thank you for sharing – Victoria…bkm

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  17. avril yospa says:

    The first stanza really captures the characted of Ed, who’s independance kept him going and when he sold his car he let go of living at a great age.

    The second stanza, still family history of death, and a twist of humour of mum ‘being on top for a change’. That gives it life and brevity to balance out the grim subject of dying.

    The third stanza in the first 2 lines weakened the piece, the repeat of ‘mourning’ and ‘morning’ didn’t work so well. Also
    ‘too early every morning’ is a bit of a mouthful, ‘much too early in the morning’ scans better.

    ‘of all I couldn’t have’ also weakens the line;
    ‘of all that I could not have’ gives it more gravitas as it’s an important line and crucial to this poem, as the longing in the cooing of the doves seems to relate to your own personal sense of loss.

    4th stanza gets to the nitty gritty, of your own mortality and the preparation for it by giving those you trust Power of Attorney. The conversation between 2 people works really well here.

    The last stanza is great, a really strong finish, putting death into perspective, every living being dies, it’s just how we deal with it that determines our mental well being.

    I love the conversational tone of your poem and you draw us into your family history and how it has centred around death. Of course the dog is part of your family too, but somehow the tone of the final couplet and stanza isn’t morbid, which is a great finish.

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  18. Today has been a day to read sad stories. This one has so much loss that it took my breath away. Poetry is a great channel in which to pour out grief, too painful to speak of.

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