Monday, April 20, 2009

April poem no. 20

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a poem about rebirth. So, I decided to take the essay I wrote for WOW and got an honorable mention on and give it rebirth as a poem. Actually, the piece is quite different from the essay. I reorganized it, cut out a lot, and tried to give it some rhythm. You be the judge -- better as an essay or as a poem? (See my February 20, 2009 post -- coincidentally just one month ago.) By the way, the theme of the poem is rebirth, in a way.

Making Room for Me

After six years I stacked Paul’s books and records,
once in alphabetical order on his closet shelves,
in boxes out in the garage,
and finally cleared away all the dust.

I recreated his room and closet,
with a new hardwood floor,
a bay picture window, deep taupe walls,
a white ceiling and crown molding,
and file drawers and book shelves
for storing my poems.

I refurnished his room
in shades of black and orange.
The sofa is like a futon
because he once slept on a futon in this room.
I bought an orange lava lamp for my desk
like the one Paul wanted me to buy for him
back in December 1995.
I didn’t buy him a lamp that day
I wasn’t feeling generous enough.
Now, I know a lava lamp gyrates in time to music.
Then, I didn’t know Paul didn’t just want a lava lamp.
He needed one.
He needed it to keep time with his music
whether it was the music he played on his keyboard
or in his head.
So, I needed one, too.

I put my style and tastes into this room,
but, I didn’t erase him.
Paul has been my muse for so many years.
He still is.

After six years I recreated his room into a place
where I could finish telling his story and mine
about his bipolar illness
and how the medicines didn’t work for him,
about how hard he fought against taking his meds
because he couldn’t live with them
and he couldn’t live without them,
about his suicide
and how I survive through it all.

I am writing this story in his room.
I write sitting at a draftsman table opposite the bay window.
When I sit there
I sometimes gaze out to the garden,
at the three palm trees,
the small cement pond
where birds take a dip,
the ginger and azalea plants and my smiling Buddha.
I can hear the gurgle of the fountain
when it’s warm enough
to leave the window open.

I feel a calm in his room,
and that helps my writing.
Maybe my reminders of Paul also help,
his candlesticks on the top shelf
of the bookcase,
his photo and a charcoal and white chalk drawing
of me when I was pregnant with him,
and a photo of a sunset taken on September 22, 1999,
his last night alive,
showing an orange sun
floating into the sea.
I also have an assemblage
of felt-covered wooden mallets
once used to strike the strings of a piano –
the instrument that kicked off his music career
when he was 10 years old.

No, I haven’t erased him.
He is in there with me.
He is inside me.

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