all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Please include a link (www.papayamaya.blogspot.com) when reproducing any of the material in this blog. Thank you!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, January 27, 2006

We Are This Close


















in the next lane, eyes steely on the road,
a woman makes the smallest adjustment to the bandanna
covering her scalp and I think,
cancer.

The light turns red, and we both stop, parallel.
When I let myself linger on her face,
I see she's pencilled in her eyebrows.
They're perfect arcs of chestnut brown, unreal as anything,
but still, she looks like a fading movie star,
skin a little loose around her neck,
her lips a dry crimson pucker.
And still, all I see is
how the chemo's tired her out,
made her hands papery, withered with unwelcome age.
I think of her kids, and her husband,
and even if there might be none,
I imagine she's driving toward groceries,
the pick-up at school, to drop off the dry-cleaning,
any of those artless domesticities
that keep us all fixed to the calendar -
I think about how she's part of those, too.
And maybe I'm stretching here
but I wonder if, now, these mindless daily tasks have been elevated
to a kind of fresh reverence, how maybe this woman feels
the sheer good luck of surviving long enough
to run this humdrum errand, and the next, and the next.

When she passes me, I notice the plastic dahlia
she's notched into the hood of her car,
a plume of aubergine and magenta
that revives the dull grey of her Accord.
As she drives, the stem waves with her growing speed,
until I lose the car, the flower, the scarf,
the pencil-thin eyebrows, the skin, the chemo, the cancer,
the woman.

And I'm thinking, we are so close, you and I.
We are always this close.

12 comments:

la vie en rose said...

beautiful writing maya! and the pic--wow!

dweezila said...

Thank you for this, missie. We are this close, we are this close, we are this close. I needed the reminder, I did.

Judi said...

Beautiful

Judi said...

Beautiful!

snowsparkle said...

ever since last year when i spent so much time with my mom battling cancer, i've been haunted with the same feelings of "it'll get me too." my rational mind tells me i'm doing mostly all the right things to avoid it, but i find little comfort in that. the better thing to do is, as you suggest, appreciate each moment of good health. thanks for the reminder. wishing you and yours good health.

megg said...

Wow, beautiful beautiful poem. And I really loved the list of reasons to keep writing! Thank you!

Josephine said...

Your empathy is the most gorgeous thing about being human. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place.

~Josephine

pinkcoyote said...

mmmm...the artless domesticities...how this all comes home. your words are so inspiring-i want to dog-ear the printed page...
we are all the same...sometimes..always.

Colin said...

Moving and stilling. This froze me in my tracks of web-browsing, and I was right there in the car with you.

GoGo said...

Thank you.

GoGo said...

Thank you.

GoGo said...

Thank you.