Monday, April 18, 2011

After Her

I am underground where the roots
of trimmed conifers strangle water from clay
and daylight filters through half-drawn window blinds,
still dusty with the lives of strangers. My grey face
reflected in that window becomes gaunt and ghosted.

Outside the cinderblock walls, ambulances
and fire trucks streak towards the hospital
or away. Red flashes light up the night and whining
sirens wrench my dreams into deafening wails.

I burrow here in this basement along 13 Mile Road,
a short stretch between life and death, and die
each afternoon only to wake again to black mornings.

Friends send wreaths of flowers, propped
against the door, leave plastic-wrapped casseroles
with small notes of condolences. Everything rots
with love.

I wonder sometimes if God resides in the dim
light bulb that hangs from my ceiling, and whether
I might come closer to heaven if I noose myself there.

But I am too sad, even for staged dying
and instead I improvise living, listen to jazz,
mark my days by etching lines in notebook paper,
connecting them with curves until poetry covers
the blank space, and I feel written.

Later I will chisel this into stone, leave
this place, and go home.

©Ami Mattison

Photo courtesy of howzey


  1. Stellar poem. I really like the bit about the light bulb, God and the noose.

  2. ^^ I was going to say exactly that. Also, the improvised living and "until i feel written." So despairing, but I'm glad for the glimmer of home at the end.

  3. "etching lines in notebook paper,
    connecting them with curves until poetry covers
    the blank space, and I feel written."

    I like that.

    If all else fails. Tubby's is right up the road. Nothing like a messy grilled sub to render all else unimportant!

  4. Have to say I like the first mood-setting lines best, with their sensation of covert smothered emotions, strangers overlaying one's own life, and seeing one's face as a ghost's. The casseroles and wreaths are a strong touch, also. The ending images are of course, both strange and potent, if you'll allow the phrase.

  5. the bit about noosing yourself to get closer to god as the catholics see suicide as unforgivable..and the carving your own really like this ami...playig catch up