Oct/Nov 2010 Poetry

Two Poems

by Rose Black

Missing Pieces

In the brightly lit living room, I lift one package after another and hand them to the woman who carries them downstairs. The cargo is heavy yet fragile. I want to trust the woman not to drop what she carries. But she is awkward, unsteady. Things can break open, and the basement is dark.

Up and down the ladder goes the woman with the packages. She is supposed to put them in their proper place, and you'd think this would be easy. The packages are clearly marked-"The Time I Found the Runaway Boys," "Throwing Cooter into the Fish Pond," "When Mother Cut the Switch from the Maple Tree," and so on.

When I want one of the packages again, I summon the woman to bring it up. Sometimes she finds what she is looking for and delivers it intact. But because she is careless, the contents may spill, and things may go missing. She tries to hide this by scooping up part of one package and putting it into another. For instance, "Childhood Cat, Tippy, Stuck on the Roof"might get mixed up with "Father's Red Flannel Shirt."

Thousands of packages. The woman goes up and down for years, and she is getting very tired.

Eventually, chaos comes to the storage room. It begins to leak. Labels fall off, packages are damaged or lost. Worse yet, the woman brings up packages that don't even belong to me. She says, trust me, these are as good as ever. These are yours.

That woman has simply stopped doing as she is told. She brings up packages when they aren't wanted, and doesn't bring up packages when they are. She is hopeless, but she's the only help around.

A time comes when I must go down the ladder and take care of things myself. So many packages. I want to live among them for awhile, even though I may get lost.



All day and all night you keep
looking up at us. Why can't
you lie down? Panting and
staring, you stand on the rug

at the end of our bed. You are
our stubborn mountain dog
and in the past I've said stupid
dog right in front of you. But

now it's 2 a.m. and we can't
sleep with you standing there
and I say Let's go. Right now.
And this time we promise

you we'll fix it, whatever
it is. Stupid first vet. Clearly
not a tummy ache, and if
she doesn't know what it is

she should say so. It will be
two days, two nights, two
vets later, the long trip to
UC Davis, the diagnosis:

collapsed lungs. Why? There
will be the little room all fixed
up to look like a chapel, on
the walls photos of redwoods,

an orange sunset on the ocean.
They will wheel you in on
a metal table. Tubes in you,
a small bag of...something.

We will talk to you and rub
your ears. My hand on
your one white paw. Then
they will take you out. After

we cry, we will go home
and we will not sleep.


Previous Piece Next Piece