Plague Poem for Day Thirty-Six
She asks me what’s up for today,
an innocent enough question
one we’ve asked each other
for so many years it’s easy to
lose count, but now it takes on
a weight of meaning, perhaps
a subtle dig, I have been doing
very little recently, yards need
tending, garage cleaning, and
the cellar organizing, or she may
be making a point about how
much more she does every day
while I read, write a bit, watch
too much TV, nap, and some days
walk around our neighborhood
the world I’ve built and live in now
and when she asks what’s up, I end
up saying I have plans, plans I leave
mysterious, a bit of pride, a vague
something to say when she asks
and I have nothing else.
Plague Poem for Day Thirty-Seven
Sometimes I forget things, easy things
a pill at a certain hour, a person’s name,
or who I sent something to but forgot and
sent the same thing off again. I forget
so easily, why I walked from the kitchen
into the living room, what it was that I
hoped to find in the car. Forgetting has
become part of every day, I shed parts
of me this way, I trim down my life
get rid of whole sections of my past,
parts I miss and parts I’m better off
without. It’s part art, part medical, much
too methodical in its ways to be creative,
more paint by numbers than impressionist,
more fill-in-blanks than poetry. I forget
more each day, have become proficient in
my own way. Tried to write a check, but
fumbled the date, remembered the number
of the day, the month, even could have said
Wednesday with confidence, but I couldn’t
remember the year, it’s not ’97 anymore,
what happens to years, days are simple, but
years hurt – I wrote 2015, I remember that
year but for some reason have forgotten all
the rest, even today, it’s an easy thing to do.
Plague poem for Day Thirty-Eight
Where do they go after they’re done with us?
Where do they go, the dead that is, where do
they go after they give up the ghost, the ship,
stop all this nonsense? Do they gather in the
wings, compare notes, watch to see who’s next?
Do they take time, think back about how their
ends unfolded? Do they talk about the who, what,
and when of it, the warning signs, the bad advice,
the look on the faces around them when they knew?
Do they decide which ones of us they will haunt,
tap on the glass, drag chains, pace slowly back and
forth in the attic, whisper to us on windy nights?
Now that they know that enough wasn’t enough but
all they could take; do they mark things down in
their ledgers, try to balance the book, the things
they remember and what we are saying about them?
Do they care about body bags, coffins, and makeshift
morgues? Do they care about the numbers, the living
and then the dead, the seeming winners and their place
as losers? Do they measure remembrance – the flags
at half-staff, the mention on the evening news, vague
funerals with nothing left to say? Do they know that
they were/are keeping us from returning to normal?
Do they wonder now that they know more than we do?