Friday, October 12, 2007

THE BRAIN OF A POET


(Image from a card at the marvelous Anne Taintor)

Hiya, beauties. I'm working on another post, but in the meantime, here's a nifty little bit of online fun: Test whether your brain is Right Brain or Left Brain. I turned out to be Left Brain:

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe

And after the fold is a sequence of thematically related autobiographical poems, including my favorite I've ever written (the last). Enjoy this autumn day.


AFTER THE BYPASS I

After the bypass, Mama would not wake up
I got there at three in the morning
all the way from San Francisco
The waiting room at ICU was full of men
Brothers, cousins, uncle, and Daddy
He jumped up, said Oh thank God and
grabbed my hand. Not waiting for a hug
he pulled me into a half-lit chamber
with four beds set at compass points
Nurses with whispers tried to stop him
He used his high school half-back skills
to get me to the goal: Mama, grey and
too cool to the touch
He stood behind me, to keep the nurses
off my flank, but reached around to
lay his palm on her cheek and say
She's here now, honey, wake up
then told me to talk to her
I wanted to run. They raise us for this kind of
courage, born a woman means
facing the horror of intimacy and being
the one who makes it bearable
I said her name, then mine, and
her eyelids fluttered. When she was
able to focus on me, I was sorry I had
disturbed her rest, she looked so
exhausted. She repeated my name and
at that a phalanx of nurses finally
cut us away, jubilant at her return
sure they were just what she needed


© Maggie Jochild, 11 May 2006, 8:43 p.m.



AFTER THE BYPASS II

After the bypass, when Mama finally
came out of ICU and went into
a private room, every time
she moved, she winced
The veins they'd used to replumb her chest
came from unholy mining of her thighs
Her chest itself was Frankensteinian
Pried open like a mussel, then
wired back shut with stainless steel
She wanted to see. She wanted to know
what had been done to her. I helped her
sit up, folded back the sheets, looked
at her legs first. No wonder it hurts
My brothers stood up and went to the window
Talked stiffly to each other as if we were not there
She said You'll have to untie this gown
in the back
, and at that my father
walked out the door
We traced the red faultline with
my hand over her fingers, warm flesh
laced by cold metal
She sighed, and lay back down
I covered her up as she slept


© Maggie Jochild, 11 May 2006, 8:50 p.m.


(Nilmoni -- Maggie's ayah and second mother -- with Maggie's older brother Craig, mother Mary Jo, and Maggie, Kolkata, India 1956)

I MAY BE SOME TIME

That day before Thanksgiving, Mama took
me to the new mall, with energy in her
I had not seen since I was twelve
We drank Orange Julius and I told her
about Annie Dillard's writing, what
it meant to me. After emptying
our cups, we strolled over to B. Dalton
Bought Teaching A Stone To Talk
On the bench outside, my arm next to hers
I read aloud the quote by Captain Oates
Then burst into tears

Six months earlier, she had
four emergency bypasses
Cracked open before I could
even get to the airport
I came down the ramp
looking for my brother's face
The face that would tell me
if she still lived
How do we walk ahead
at times like these
air frozen and white
sound gone
alone


© Maggie Jochild, 9 February 2006, 10:00 p.m.



REHAB

At the rehab center most hips and knees
on the second floor are titanium

The average age is sixty-three
TVs are loud and families rare

The techs who bully church ladies
to one more rep, one more lift

Earn a dollar and a quarter more
than all the aides at minimum wage

Who wipe old asses, answer bells
but not too fast because the calls

Come faster than the aides can move
The pain pills are doled out in pairs

Q.i.d. which means per meal and then
one last to bring on sleep

Mornings come early and mornings mean
the first Vicodin of the day

Breakfast is chipper as a result
except for the handful of folks

Here after bypass or CVAs --
They are scared and ration words

The woman dying of lung CA
can't keep a roommate because

She coughs all night, thick and wet
They close her door but we can still

Hear her down the corridor
The third floor is all TBI

With rooms gone mute except for
multilingual gossip of aides

In afternoons, if we work hard
we get to have pool therapy

A heated cobalt chlorine sea
with one attendant each to hold

Our arms and listen, or pretend
as they coax our sagging flesh

around the ropes. At dinnertime
if there is going to be someone

Who'll come to see us, it is then
We eat together, watch the door

Tell of all we'll do now that we
can get out of the house again

Then we start the aluminum creak
of walkers down the hall alone


© Maggie Jochild, 21 June 2005, Summer Solstice, 6:25 a.m.

(Zarabanda by Alexander Calder)

CALDER

I am sitting in a wheelchair
underneath a twelve-foot mobile
Moving like the breath inside me
Every dancer on her own, but
also turning with the whole

Sunlight from the clerestory
jostles in and shifts the spin
Warms my foot like lover's hands
Changes color of the metal
floating in the struct above me

We begin in pitch deep closure
but swim up toward the bright
and air as fast as we can teeter
into creatures of the surface
Love is something we can flash

With just a glance, with just a turn
I will rotate to the light
as long as I can turn at all
And in these rooms With any luck
Perhaps I'll find you as we whirl


© Maggie Jochild, 14 June 2004, 5:56 p.m.



HIBERNATION

I know what a sleeping bear dreams
when her breath goes down to twice a minute
and the world itself abandons her

No use to shamble to her view and
wish that winter skip this year
She's in for it Covers her face

and lies back down. The only sun
is in her ribs, a buried star
She dreams not of a thaw to come

Instead she glides on berried slopes
where last October all the sweet
and tang of summer came to point

and dropletted each huckled branch
or August's shallows full of sockeye
She eats the brains and roe, then wades

to swipe another to the shore
Sitka clearing strewn with deadfall
and under brittle logs a teem of grubs

The crunchy tubers of last May
She dreams of every bite that fed her
to this point and sleeked her flanks

While ice and hunger pin her down
she fills her mouth with memory
Hope will sometimes gutter out

But memory is a magic jar
that never empties to bare glass
until it is her turn again to wake


© Maggie Jochild, 18 June 2005, 5:08 a.m., published 2006 in Natural Bridge

4 comments:

liza said...

I particularly liked the bear poem.

I was able to change the direction of the dancer by staring at the space between her foot and the shadow of her foot. It took a bit of doing, but I got the hang of it.

Like the pictures that you stare at until they become 3-D.

Maggie Jochild said...

Lize, of COURSE you figured out a way to be both, Gemini girl. You crack me up.

kat said...

I'm very right brain, but I managed to get her to flip to anti-clockwise for just a second. Then it flipped back.

what was with the dancer's body and her anti-gravity breasts, though?

letsdance said...

Must have had plastic surgery!

Powerful, emotive poetry, Maggie.

Jan