Room 68 • Poetry Hotel
Six Poems / Dorell DiRicco
MAN WITHOUT A WOMAN
Beer cans wine bottles coffee cups
Stack of newspapers on the floor
four feet high
Easy chair dirt-stained black 40 years old
sprung seat a hole with stuffing exposed
Somewhere under the cigarette butts and ashes
there should be an ashtray
Suit coats ties slacks shirts
draped over dining room chairs
Hats and shined shoes on the table
Refrigerator contains ice
and one cube of butter
Stove hides under 2” of grease.
Home late from Kelly’s bar
Belching Tuesday’s short ribs special
Stomach protruding like that of a man with a woman
But the scowl is directed toward the newspaper he holds.
YOUNG MOTHER’S THOUGHTS FROM THE FUTURE I
I look at my children’s faces
and it is odd to see
that they are aging.
I try to see them
in their childhood
through a shimmering veil of time.
Their features are blurred
but the memory of their innocence
leaps crystal clear
across the barrier of years.
I ask myself
who are these children now growing old?
They are something I had once long ago,
like the husband who was
brutally taken away
long before I was ready to give him up.
The children slipped away unnoticed,
like my life.
I let them go,
looking on in dumb disbelief
as they fell away
because they were too far out to reach.
spinning in and out of my life
like those toy disks,
still attached to my will,
blind to the cord,
anxious to be free.
I feel perplexed as though I am
trying to remember someone familiar
from long ago,
like forgotten friends.
YOUNG MOTHER’S THOUGHTS FROM THE FUTURE II
It isn’t fair that I have come to this.
Once I was in command. I ruled. I ruled you.
Late into my years, I was the head, the monarch,
matriarch, king, queen, the boss.
And now I have come to this.
I resent it.
It is not your fault.
You are good. You try to be kind.
You are doing the duty of a good daughter.
I had once cared for your needs.
And now that I am weak, ill, helpless,
I must succumb to you.
I must live in your house, abide by your rules.
Live around your life.
Not many people have such a good daughter like you.
My friend, Millie, is in that awful place
where they just let her sit all wet
in the cold draft all day,
hoping she will die soon.
Her children don’t want her.
I should be thankful for you, my child.
You care for me.
You have set aside your life to take care of me.
You gave up your tennis; your women’s club.
You try to keep the children quiet and out of sight.
Fatigue lines are creeping in between your brows.
The shadows under your eyes tell of your anguish, your strain.
My hand tries to stroke you affectionately under the chin,
like it did when you were a child,
but it will not move.
I am helpless but my tongue is not.
Involuntarily it takes on the desires of the whole body
and transforms them into the only action it knows.
It lashes out at a triviality.
I cannot be grateful. I cannot be thankful,
because I do not wish to be here, a burden to you.
I want to be independent, mobile,
capable of taking care of myself
as I took care of you when you were young.
I never planned
that you would have to care for me.
Yet buried in the graveyard of my awareness
I hoped you would
if it came to this.
It has come to this.
Such a bitter finality to life.
The final thrust of the sword of humility
felling me to your will.
Bear with me.
VISITING UNCLE AT SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL
Breathing labored memories
Of his father going the same way
Hot cancer breath
From cankered reaches of his stomach
Singeing my vacant tongue
Gagging thoughts breathed
Out of my own
Coughing visions of my
Replacing him there later
After the contagion took hold
Tears dry as lye
Spilling all over the hopeless
Hiding unimagined sorrow
Too far down in the sensibility
To be heard anyway
What can I say
Sorry you’re dying?
Sorry you’re dying like this?
Nice day isn’t it?
Here let me give you these flowers now
Instead of later on your grave?
Hurry up and get well now?
Why did you waste your life brooding upstairs in your room?
Why didn’t you live a true life
And make this end more meaningful?
Which hurts more, living or dying?
What can I say
Nothing that will cure the cancer
Nothing that will keep you alive
Nothing that will stop the pain
Nothing that will ease the regret
Nothing that will cause your rebirth
So you can start all over and do it right.
THE SURE THING
I lie awake at night thinking
Of you, bathed in a feverish
Sweat as a lover waiting.
I know you will come.
You will not overlook me.
You will not forget.
Ever since I knew you I’ve
Been vexed. Daily I labor
To forget. Nightly your
Memory intrudes, crouching
Stubborn, silent, in the dark
Place of my being, waiting for
The time. You will come,
Hated and fascinating,
And I will embrace you with
Fear and trembling, strangely
Comforted that the suspense
Is over. Death, it is the
Living before the dying that is
So terrifying. Death, you are
But the moment of terror
Through the window came the new
spring breeze to tease my
dormant winter senses.
Through the window I saw perched
upon a wire the fat backs of two
she Jays huddled like gossips.
Through the window the Jays called,
dancing on the fence, beckoning
like knaves at the Mardi Gras.
Outside I joined the breeze and birds
and found the gossips swaying on the wire
ignoring me with their backs, snickering.