The water I walk over commuting
from my day job
cradles the moon, the face of a man whose aging
will never stop.
Slender rain pinpricks his foamy cheeks and rounded jowls,
shatters as I walk through it into infinitesimal pools
on the shabby sidewalk all the way to home.
It’s swishing and tangling in branches
of the drama-queen weeping willow
(I, too, want to cry and never stop)
I asked my dad to plant next to the greedy lilac
I imported to my own garden from Pop’s.
Is there a better way to honor passing eighty-three years
on kneepads among bees and peat and painted petunias,
all to lay fallow and eventually be remembered by no one
in a listing world
that never stops? I could have paused in my white of orbit,
tended the lilac with him while it was still his,
taken my here and there to his here and now.
I only have these holes, a waft of budding, a dent of rainfall.
Stars, Ice and Fuel
Keep his leg frozen, brace,
as long as his femur remains split –
like his marriage –
pinned for the healing it shows no signs toward.
Help us lug all our earthly
wares across America, road,
from heaving ground to air in tantrum.
Spangle our box of car, vacuum-sealed
jars of potato flour and dry beans,
crate of computer fragments
only he’s got a vision for,
two rescue Pit Bull mixes,
miles of pills to subsume the pain in his shoulders
– arthritic from the double duty of wheelchair life –
crusty, oversized atlas too stiff to use,
assorted bags of chips and pretzels.
Granola and gasoline, keep us moving.
Perch on his paralyzed thigh, lumpy Ziploc bag
of thawing water; imprint a jagged groove,
husband’s spine, into the cheap mattress
we’ve installed in the back of our 15-seater.
Negotiate for clarity in the sunroof,
aging fingerprints in the dust on both sides of the pane,
coil of storm we’ll have to outrun,
stars, I guess, at the edge of the cloud.
Help us, can you, leave behind nothing at all
but headlights like calving moons
bearing us down.
The only thing at the bottom
of my bottle is more falling.
The first guy wobbles and lifts
an imaginary glass to the group,
mouths “cheers” and then tips the glass over.
Shakes it, all the way out.
You have to dash your skull on the rocks at the bottom
to come here, break bread with the sodden, break
your body from wine.
He knows. He nods.
The looks people give a street sot are stones, he says.
Break a man’s backbone. That’s enough to get many through
these doors every week. Me, I had better aim than anyone on The Outside.
We know, we nod.
One after another, we lift our half empty glasses –
to Jodi, Tom, Jazz, still Out There –
and remind each other how we are making something
out of the nothing we’ve been made into.
We fill our imaginary glasses, clink
and pour them, each of us in turn, all the way out.
I attempted to meditate for a year. I used an app, tracked my progress, and made it a goal to complete every exercise Headspace offered before my subscription was up. It took me over six months to realize that I had turned even mindfulness into something to master, conquer or check off my list, a ritualized practice I'd streamlined but was starting to wear me down. I made a radical change and began to unstructure how I approach contemplative prayer. Most mornings, I'll spend however long I have before my alarm goes off drifting in and out of sleepiness, letting my mind run all over the place before God. I'll label certain 'sticky' thoughts or feelings that appear more than once in a given morning's romp around but I will rein myself in from setting any agenda or trying to make too many rules.
Megan Wildhood is a creative writer and social worker at a crisis center in Seattle, WA. Her work, which centers social justice, marginalized experiences, and hope for healing as an act of resistance, has appeared in The Atlantic, The Sun, Yes! Magazine, and America Magazine, among other publications. Long Division, a poetry chapbook ruminating on sororal estrangement, was released by Finishing Line Press in September 2017, and she’s currently working on a novel.
More on Megan Wildhood's work can be found on our Links page.