CYNTHIA RUTH LEWIS

YEARS AFTERWARD, CROUCHED ON
A COLD BATHROOM FLOOR

It all seemed like a million years ago;
we were sitting in the sun-bright kitchen
talking about our childhood, remembering
the good times, laughing and trying to
recollect certain events, like which
car trip it was where you lost your
G.I.Joe at a rest stop and had a temper
tantrum for days, the time you played
God and jumped off the roof to impress
your friends, the little nerd down the
street who dared me to eat a worm which
I threw up moments later, the endless
clubhouse fights, bike races and skinned
knees, and the time you hid Dad's wallet
but couldn't remember where and I got
punished for it, and we're laughing so
hard the tears are rolling and all the
while you keep fidgeting with your
sleeves, tugging at them, trying to
cover the scars on your wrists


LAST WORDS

Signing the papers,
finalizing my father's cremation,
they asked me if there was anything
I wanted to go along with him:
keepsakes, jewelry, anything?

All I could think of were words;
things I always wanted to say to him
that he never would have heard

I put it all in a letter to be burned,
and drove the next day in 100 degree heat
to avenge his death; unsaid words creased
neatly in my shirt pocket,
a monument to silence

The mortuary seemed a lifetime away,
further now than yesterday.
Perhaps it was only the heat,
the temperature stretching the asphalt
and stinging my eyes with sweat, the
thin paper now dampened at my breast,
words blurred beyond significance
and sense

Overhead, a few clouds push in,
distorting the atmosphere, the day,
casting everything in shades of
funereal gray...

even the sky loses its edge


CUT & DRIED

I felt a lump under my arm the other day

Could be nothing.
Could be something...
if it's something,
it's almost a relief knowing
how it's going to end

you see, I have little faith in doctors--
if this is my lot in life, so be it.
I'm not about to fight it

I'm not interested in going through
months of extensive treatment,
prolonging my life to the fullest extent;
stretching out those golden years,
settling in my rocking chair on the porch
telling friends and neighbors how
I beat the BIG C, and how much more
I've accomplished since then

I'm glad the decision
might have already been made for me:
no more wondering how I'm going
to take my own life when the time comes--
visions of pills, ropes and guns
dancing through my head in those gray moments,
wondering which one would win out
when the desperation overtook me
and I couldn't bear it anymore

Death doesn't frighten me--
let it come, softly,
at its own pace
like night ends the day,
taking it under its wing when it's spent,
slipping gently into oblivion;
a quiet ending to a day undone--

a tender, new moon rising
to replace a burnt-out sun


PASSING THROUGH

I didn't know you all that well;
just enough to say 'hey'
during my morning walks

You weren't much for talk, either,
but your face always seemed to mask
a myriad of depth I doubt any speech
could lend credence towards,
had you the opportunity,
like voice dubbed in a foreign film;
the lips not quite matching the words

Sometimes I felt like stopping
for small talk, but something always
compelled me to keep moving,
as though I were an intruder,
as though I might trespass on something
I didn't need to know.

I heard you died the other day;
heart attack in your sleep.
I was stunned at my reaction,
bemoaning the fact I'd never
stopped to listen,
as if voicing your trials and tribulations
would have made a difference,
as if it would have made them
any less real,
like dispelling a bogeyman
hiding under the bed
simply by saying his name

I remember one particular morning
just a few short weeks ago,
seeing you sitting blissfully on your porch,
oblivious to passersby,
your face turned comfortably towards the sun,
its light enveloping you
in a halo of peace
as though there was no such thing
as any pain or darkness beyond
its reach



Cynthia Ruth Lewis:
I'm 38, having written poetry for the past 17 years. Currently back in the publishing
world after having taken a 2 year hiatus due to creative apathy and temporary insanity--
which, actually may have enhanced my writing. It has certainly enhanced my weirdness.







2005 Underground Voices