20 May 2019

Home Alone





The warm cave of the apartment
with windows shuttered and doors locked
is safe from visits and chatter
outside, downstairs, and all places
that call urgently and sweetly,
imagining themselves to be
gardens of growth, power, delight
or special companionship.

It’s not always seasonal, this
wish to see gardens remotely
from the safety of the cavern’s
thick walls, with chinks large enough to
look out but too small to disturb
a languid and healing darkness. 



My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
If you quote, credit this page.
© 2019 Susan L. Chast

18 May 2019

Haiku After the Rain


File:Peony in rain (2599513747).jpg
Peony in rain by Randi Hausken


Ground gives underfoot.
No longer may nurture hide
its small beginnings.
~
Even the flowers
who sleep among sturdy weeds
awaken and stretch.
~
The sun insists on
warming green leaves and blossoms.
Pink petals unfurl.
 ~
What was forsaken 
and pale scents the atmosphere
and offers rainbows.


My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
If you quote, credit this page.
© 2019 Susan L. Chast

17 May 2019

Restoration



Illustration of a tree with damage
source



Home from my travels with coffins and ghosts,
I contend with strangers and vacancies.
Friends were too quick to claim mortality
they leave vacuums where they should have stayed
for a longer while.  It’s so silent here.

A wind came through yesterday, stripping trees
of their weak limbs.  Debris lies in broken piles
of lilac, maple, cherry, and catalpa,
labeled with a few green leaves here and there,
messing up the freshly-mowed green lawn.

Relatives of the deceased clean downstairs,
and tomorrow workers will groom the yard.
None of the bustle will remove the quiet;
none of the cleanup will restore the past.



My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.
If you quote, credit this page.
© 2019 Susan L. Chast


14 May 2019

Saying "Rest in Peace"


I.

We look at your empty
source
shell on your deathbed, say
Rest in peace” as if soul
or spirit waits to hear,
and bow our heads to pray
for safe travels once more.

Yet half of us believe
the trip ended just as
the breath left the body,
and half of us believe
there are no places to
travel to after death.

And we all know death has
altered reality,
that the period on
the end of your story
gives us license to change
it, to embroider with

the memories and roots
you've left behind. We all
take home a piece of you
to weave into our lives
differently than we did
before—as a pure gift.

When we see your body
and say “Rest in peace,”
maybe we say it to
ourselves. Maybe it is
our own soul, our own safe
travels for which we pray.

II.

You are at peace.  I saw
you smile.  I heard  you greet
the ancestors the day
before, while music still
spoke to you from this side.
I saw you wish us peace.

Here still, I pray for peace.
I feel more gratitude
than I can speak of
and say "Rest in Peace"
for all of usfor you
and for me.  Forgive me.

I felt you forgive me
when your hand gripped my hand.
I saw you do the same
to all, saw those around
receive it through tearful
eyeslove, plain and simple.

Such a peaceful dying
and leaving.  I stand with
my God.  I hold the hand
of Jesus in front of
your closed coffin.  I say
the "Rest in peace" with all.

The room is crowded with
the closest relatives
and their beliefs, their gods,
their lives and their love.
Only goodness is here.
The air we breathe is sweet.

III.

I must have been dreaming
a minute, not to hear
the conversational
tone of the gathering—
one talking about jobs,
another about cars.

Drowned in the familiar—
one bulb out over the
coffin, one dirty podium,
deodorant spray and
elevator music—
but the birds sang louder.

First I cried for fakeness,
and then cried for myself—
and then noticed a change
as seats filled and people
leaned in to hear one man's
story of a jackknife.

Our dearly departed
put a jackknife along
with fifty dollars in
this grandson's car and said
Keep them on the driver's
side, and keep them hidden.

He was grinning about
his good relationship
Stories were then traded,
and I was done crying
for the moment.  Resting
in peace.  Resting in peace.







My blog poems are rough drafts.

Please respect my copyright.
If you quote, credit this page.
© 2019 Susan L. Chast