Paper Clips

Sunset from Sugar Loaf Summit, Sedona, Arizona, 1-11-17

We stitch together what we can from our lives, avidly trying to make sense of it all. Yesterday’s subtle sunset in the west, a simple display of gray swathes with a few thin golden lines, lovely and soft, essential but not memorable. Lo and behold, turn around and that same simple daily decsent has indeed lit up a gigantic and angry orange shark in the eastern sky, headed north, prepared to battle the rainstorm pounding Flagstaff.

Yesterday’s president, humble and encouraging juxtaposed with tomorrow’s, who would appear to confuse power with his bullying tactics from seventh grade. Our lives throw us oppositional moments, and all we need, it would seem, is a needle and a thread, or paper clips, as was my mother’s choice, to piece together what we are given, to make sense of a world over which, utlimately, we have so little control. But there is solace in the small options we find, for glue, for connection.

Paper Clips

Filling each faded blue line
of a  tiny white notebook
with illegible script
my mother confidently listed
each unyielding symptom
that paraded daily down her frame.

Providing only humble indication of emotion
vague whispers of pain
she’d use only small words:
good bad better worse.

She wrote as if sipping
very hot tea.
As if to usurp her ills
with the shaky red ink.

Her knotted joints struggled
to safely guide scissors
along the columns of womens’ magazines
of The Michigan Catholic; The Detroit News
snipping out daily affirmations
and prayers
and the names
of saints
or stars
she should turn to.

She unhooked paper clips
from a ragged chain as long
as her arm and as tangled
as her memory
and fastened her mornings’ finds
to doctors’ business cards
attempting to design
and direct
her cancer her time her age her

When the stirring
of the vertigo subsided
she would rise
from that certain
and abiding
edge of her recliner,
of her refusal
to go, just yet,
and she’d tack
her day’s work
an ornament, a votive
on the bulletin board
beside her bed.


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