Poem: Lives that Swirl

Lives that Swirl

You wake up, and there are birds singing outside.
There is sun in the east.
The sky is pink, a reminder of the snow coming in
from the unlikely south.

Still, it is sun. It is color in the season of snow.
you sit at your desk and savor it.
The cats rustle at your feet, restless, eager
to be let out. They can wait. This time is sacred,

everything that brings color is sacred.
There was a time. Your children will confirm it,
when you shied away from color,
it was too messy and unpredictable.

Simple black and white for you.
but life is messy. Messier than you understood
and not all of the chaos a bad thing. More often
it was glorious, glorious enough you let it swallow you

and learned to swim in the mess, to drink it
like a drunk three hours into his imbibing, like a lover
besotted. You hardly recognize yourself
more days than not.

That is the thing about aging. Nothing stays the same,
least of all you, and you wake up
with all your lives aswirl around you,
and wonder how all could be true.

About this poem.

I got the test results from my one month post radiation treatment doc today. I have spent much of the past thirty days waiting, and in the waiting, looking back at all the change and growth and damage and healing of my life so far. I guess you do that in times like this.

I really was a black and white kind of guy, in decorating and in doing art. White walls and only white walls. Black t-shirts. All pen and ink or pencil drawings from and for me. I was afraid of color, sure I would mess it up. Obviously that has changed.

There was a peek of color in the sky this morning. Another snowstorm is coming in. Winter in Vermont. The picture was taken another morning, from outside my house.

Tom

PS: The test results were good. No detectable cancer.

5 comments

  1. Wow, Tom. Some of your finest poetry ever, I think.

    Finding a way to embrace the chaos that is life, you write “… you let it swallow you and learned to swim in the mess, to drink it like a drunk three hours into his imbibing, like a lover besotted.”

    And you culminate with this line that achieves a near-immortality of its own: “… you wake up with all your lives aswirl around you, and wonder how all could be true.”

    Great writing, Tom!

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