Monday, May 18, 2015


Pity embalms love. If love is dead, then pity impregnates its body against decay. Touches its unborn child with one hand, while making change with the other. A sentence about love and death stands alone. Who needs any other? If she'd been less blunt, we might have let her go. But I took away her keys; that was her life sentence. Four years ago, this was her last month. There's no form for that, the continuous present trapped inside the past like a bee inside a flower. Its sweetness stings. The Alzheimer's patient cannot remember, but she feels acutely. To be in time is to be possessed by it. Tense cell, my place of rest electric. After his massage of honey and salt, he spent hours scrubbing off his skin. Why did you choose that one? he remembers being asked.

---18 May 2015


Janet said...

I love most of this poem, from "If she'd been less blunt..." all the way to the end. I particularly like the massage of honey & salt, & choosing the wrong massage obviously. What I am struggling with is the enbalming of pity (but no problems with how that might transmute to honey & salt) & its preventing of decay while it makes change (this takes me to making change while the sun shines, but that's me.)

I'm not a robot!

susan said...

The one sentence turned literal on me, as I saw a soccer mom yesterday holding her stomach with one hand as she offered change at a fundraiser. I was thinking of the difference between balm and embalm, how one is comforting, and the other simply keeps death from decay. If love is embalmed, is it dead? Or something. The definition of "embalm" in the OED is something to the effect of "impregnating with spices," which is how I got from death to pregnancy. Does any of this make sense?

Jonathan Morse said...

Lots of eminences have swung the censer the way you do. Keats, for instance ("O soft embalmer of the still midnight" ["To Sleep"], and Milton ("A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life" ["Areopagitica," with I guess a kind of Fun Home pun on "embalm").

Karen said...

"I'm not a robot!" I second Janet. And I resisted the first four sentences of yours same as J. "I took away her keys..." so very powerful. And the idea of feeling but not remembering. Gut punch. Very good.