White Spaces

The space between
faith and falling—as thin
as my grandmother’s sheets

my mother told me that before you died
you used to go to the church
when it was empty at 6 a.m.
and pray for me

she whispered to blessed wombs
I mouthed the words to myself:
“don’t die”

in the hospital I imagined you

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Me & Grams

on your knees in the pew,
fingering the sacred beads
your whisper, your serious face–
like when you had
inspected my wounds over the years,
that serious look you had
when you healed things you could heal,
your hands starting to gnarl from arthritis,
working out the sliver

her repetition of deliverance to
painted saints chipping off the walls
as I plea further to nothing but
my own will and hospital sheets:
“don’t die”

the focus in your eyes—intent
on faith healing wounds you
couldn’t touch;
the focus in mine—the
machinery of my mind,
synaptic failure between
iron gears closing their teeth

her tarnished jewelry clicks against the beads that slide into the next prayer;
I stand at the double-paned window in room six,
watching the snow fall,
emptiness annihilating the teachings
“don’t die”

I wish I could tell you
what I saw. I wish I could show you
the rot that was there–
injections of anti-psychotics
and sedatives like antibiotics
for a chronic infection in the heart

she reaches the end and sits for
a few moments in the quiet;
in my waking nightmares
I stand before her memory, naked with shame
and confessing in the dark:
“I want to die.”

I imagine her up in a heaven
I had pictured back in grade school,
leaving the light on over the sink for me
like she used to when I slept there
on the nights her cancer took hold

The space between
faith and falling—

blinding linens, her knotted hands
on the clothespins, pulling down
the white cord beneath white clouds
by the birch tree

and myself—discovering what she had always known:
surviving doesn’t mean you believe,
it means you love

 

 

 

submitted to Real Toad’s Tuesday Platform

 

10 thoughts on “White Spaces

  1. Oh WOW – this poem was a journey – the one praying “dont die”, the one who at least once wanted to die, the prayers, the fantastic line “the space between faith and falling”. Then you totally gob-smacked me with your closing line. Wowzers! A fantastic write!!!!!!

    Like

  2. A candle for the saint who prayed for that entire dark of the soul for the poet to find her heart. The way you give homage to that in the penultimate stanza shows that the space between faith and falling is a difficult degree, like the distance between No and Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is exceptional in its capture of relationships, faith and holding on to both memory and a life that is fading. Very moving without being sentimental.

    Liked by 1 person

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