As You Lie Dying


As You Lie Dying

Photo: Google Images

As you lie dying,
the shadow of a palm
outside your window
peeps in, enters,
slips across the comforter,
nestles in its folds,
covers your pain.

In the distance
a couple bats tennis balls
back and forth across the net.
No strain.
An easy volley,
back and forth again,
like our ideas,
ricocheting back and forth.
Yours, then mine.
Divergent memories.

One fact we both hold true.
The night earth shook Tehachapi,
our lives were rent.
And nothing evermore
would be the same.

Outside your window now
a murder of crows descends to feed.

This poem is written for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets’ Pub. Tomorrow at Write2Day my prompt will deal with memories. When my sister was dying, we learned how different our recollections of the same events were. Our previously widowed parents married one another when we were both seven. (Her dad, my mom.) The night of their wedding I spent my first night away from the home that we had shared with my grandparents. That night there was a significant earthquake. You can figure out the rest. 

Stop by the Pub and enjoy the poetry, the poets and who knows what else!

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28 thoughts on “As You Lie Dying

  1. Christine says:

    This is a very skilled and touching poem. Beautiful!

    Like

  2. zongrik says:

    the imagery in the middle stanza is pefect

    Like

  3. I imagine your lives would never be the same. Huge upheavals in both senses. Earthquake and in lives that have to adjust to such huge differences. A beautiful piece of writing.

    Like

  4. ManicDdaily says:

    Lovely poem. K.

    Like

  5. Shawna says:

    I really enjoyed this section, in particular:

    “he shadow of a palm
    outside your window
    peeps in, enters,
    slips across the comforter,
    nestles in its folds,
    covers your pain”

    Like

  6. I love the line, “our lives were rent.” So powerful. You seem to have quite a life story, too… 😉

    Like

  7. Sheila Moore says:

    magnificent in metaphor and sentiment. That earthquake may have embedded this memory more clearly than it would have been otherwise (or maybe not) 🙂

    Like

  8. Ruth says:

    Lovely, haunting, a slow exploration of past in present. I like the tennis metaphor, fits well. And memories are funny things… or the way different individuals remember shared events, are (I’ve been noticing that with my sister too).

    Like

  9. Steve King says:

    Victoria,
    What makes this for me is the way each line has a graceful rhythm that leads to the next that leads to the next…There’s no way to stop reading it. The content is perceptive, thought provoking and dramatic, thanks, I think to the quiet sense of understatement that I (at least) get from it.

    Like

  10. viv blake says:

    Your poem says so much about so many things that it has to be read and re-read. The scene-setting is brilliant, full of seemingly inconsequential details. And so is the way you bring out the divergent memories of the same event. I have this with my sister all the time! The reference to crows made me think of Ted Hughes and his obsession with death. I shall come back and read this again.

    Like

  11. claudia says:

    i’m glad for the background…makes it even deeper.. our lives were rent.
    And nothing evermore
    would be the same.. sounds like two earthquakes you were going through in a way

    Like

  12. I felt this poem, it was so easy to slip inside the moments – you caught two peoples’ versions of their own history and made it seem as real as if the memory was mine… but then, mine was a little diferent… 🙂

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  13. Just a little process note…the details in this poem are actual, with perhaps a bit of descriptive embellishment. Cris lived in a tennis community in SoCal. There were palm trees and tons of big black birds hanging around at the time of her death. They’re still there, as far as that goes.

    Like

  14. souldipper says:

    I don’t know how many times I’ve just re-read this poem. I also went to Google to read about the earthquake. I can hear that volley – and hear how the bawonk, bawonk of that volley could mock the preciousness of life.

    Phew!

    Like

  15. Pat Hatt says:

    Wonderful scene you paint with your words today and liked the movie reference at the end, (i know prob wasn’t intential) but that is where my mind goes..haha

    Like

  16. siggiofmaine says:

    Sigh. So well written.
    I particularly like the passage
    “An easy volley,
    back and forth again,
    like our ideas,
    ricocheting back and forth.
    Yours, then mine.
    Divergent memories.”
    …”ricocheting,” a marvelous word choice,
    and
    “Divergent memories”
    a wonderful phrase to explain the differences
    that people have even standing next to each other
    as witnesses to an event or to siblings being born
    at different life experience times of parents who seem
    totally different to each sibling…as if they had different parents.
    and
    “a murder of crows descends to feed.”
    Perfect flock of birds to end this piece.
    Peace,
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

    Like

  17. Mary says:

    This stirs my thoughts, Victoria. Death is so hard. Yes, memories can be different of the same event. It is good that you and your sister had a chance to share memories. We often think people see things the way we do, but it isn’t always so.. It is nice though when one hits upon a memory that both agree on.

    Like

  18. ayala says:

    Victoria, a beautiful poem!

    Like

  19. markwindham says:

    Beautiful write, intensely personal. Shadows covering pain, the foreboding of the crows…all good.

    Like

  20. Laurie Kolp says:

    The couple playing tennis… life does go on. That always seems a bit sad to me. This is beautiful, Victoria.

    Like

  21. Powerful. Strangely enough, even though memories were your spark, a sense of foreboding pervades, with the present tense and the crows.

    Like

  22. I love the way you describe your exchange of memories as an easy tennis volley. Very poignant poem.

    Like

  23. brian miller says:

    wow…really nice write…the hand that came as shadow covering the pain…i like the step away tot he tennis court and then back in the thoughts…intersting too on the earth quake would def cement a memry…nicely done victoria

    Like

  24. wolfsrosebud says:

    Lovely recall of another time… some so vivid we never forget

    Like

  25. Quite good – you set a great scene, populated with fine detail. Thanks.

    Like

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