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Nightshirt

Nightshirt

Originally Published in Elephant Journal.
(For Lee, 9/8/13)

For the first few weeks,
once I would return to the bed,
I’d lie on my side
arm on your pillow
your nightshirt tucked
under my cheek,
One of the few pieces of your clothing
I kept. The body is a just a shell
You said. But your lab coat,
the suit you wore to your graduation,
your nightshirt.

The one you wore to hospice.
The one you were comforted in,
the one, the last one.
Your favorite,
cornflower blue
Bamboo fiber,
soft and light,
unwashed
the scent of you
still smooth upon it,
the smell of your skin-
the gentleness of
the small of your back,
the familiar comfort
between your breasts
where I would rest my cheek,
the collar that still
carried the nape of your neck.
Each breath, a calmative
against the cruelty
Of the sudden solitary sleep,
the life, a brain, that was built around
your existence
suddenly
without.

And, sometimes, I would sleep.
and sometimes not,
but over the days,
the scent diminished,
disappeared,
like your ability to walk,
speak, see, remember,
until little was left and,
fearing it’s loss,
as I still fear yours,
I put it in a plastic bag,
removed the air, closed it tight,
put it away in the dark.

A perfume, almost gone,
of days past,
that brings a flush or joy,
a smile, a sigh,
that, for fear of being used up,
isn’t used at all.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Family, Poetry, psychology, Social

 

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Seafoam and Shadow

She dreamt in color
She dreamt in light
Of the moon on the wavecaps
And the impression her feet make
In sand and seafoam.

And I dream of those footprints
And the light that filled them
The foam that took their shape
The shadows that became them.

And walk the beach under full moon light
Looking back at my own footprints
Trying to forget I just left them.

Watching them fill with shadow and seafoam
And wash into the waves,
Into the sea
To be shined upon by moonlight.

Trying to forget I just left them.

I can do that.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Boy Ain’t Broken

As a father of a teenage boy and, in times past, a teenage girl, I am well and used to having a house that, from time to time, is composed of kids. Wall to wall kids. Kids piled on the couches, on the chairs, pressing against the walls, filling the kitchen. Daytime, nighttime.

Often there will be teens sleeping over. Nearly always my son will ask and rarely have we had any reason to say no. One teen, three teens. If they fit they can stay. Once in a while, though, someone will sleep over we weren’t prepared for. Alek will come in late with a friend too tired to drive, or not feeling well and, as we get out of bed in the morning, as I amble into the living room to stretch or Lee grumps into the kitchen to make coffee, we’ll be surprised by a kid on the couch. Sometimes both couches are full-up with teens supine.

If we see them, we’ll go back and put clothes on. Sometimes they see us first. Our house, right?

One of Alek’s best friends is Tyler. Tyler is great. He can hang around our house anytime he likes as long as he likes. Two years ago, Alek had two friends name Tyler. The way Alek and his other friends differentiated one from the other was to call this Tyler, the Tyler who is still around, the Tyler Alek travels with and skates with, Gay Tyler. The description was not inaccurate and was suggested by Gay Tyler. When the other Tyler disappeared, for good reason, Alek tells me, Gay Tyler became Tyler.

For some reason Tyler likes me. I have no idea why. He did before I met him. Alek tells me my reputation, spread word of mouth student to student, made it from middle school to high school and a bit beyond. He introduced a sixteen-year-old Tyler to me like this:

Tyler: Hi, Mr. Tritt. (I had to break him of the Mr. Tritt habit. He calls me Adam now.)

Alek: Dad, this is Tyler. He wants to date you.

Me: And who doesn’t?

Across from our bedroom, Lee has an office that doubles as a guestroom. Some nights, when Lee feels restless, she’ll leave our room for fear of waking me, go in there, open the bed, turn on the TV and go to sleep. Sometimes she sees it coming, unable to quiet her mind, and will open the couch to a bed before we go to sleep. I tell her not to worry about waking me, but she does.

Last night was one of those nights. It was an exhausting day starting with a ludicrously early start. Our son was out for dinner and a local band and Lee and I were in bed by ten. Not normal for us at all but it seemed a good idea.

Sometime during the night, Lee woke and could not get back to sleep. The next minute, to the best of my three-in-the-morning extrapolation and recollection, looks like this.

Lee gets out of bed. She walks across the hall, knows the couch has been laid out, pulls up the blankets, lies down, covers herself. Moves toward the center of the bed.

That’s the extrapolation. Here is the recollection.

I hear a scream. I wake. Wonder. Hear another. Was it Lee? Was that two screams from different voices? Jump out of bed. It’s coming from Lee’s office. It sounds like two voices, definitely. Lee is standing there, I flip the light on at the door, she is in front of me. In front of her, sitting up in the bed, against the wall, panting, is Tyler.

Apparently, Tyler was too tired to drive home and, not wanting to bother us by being in the living room in the morning, thought sleeping in the guest room would be the polite, proper thing to do. Good thinking. Right he was.

But we had no idea. Lee crawled into bed and, when she moved over, rolled onto Tyler.

Did I mention we do not sleep with clothes on? I’m almost certain I did. If your picture of the event did not include that, let’s replay it.

A naked Lee crawls into bed and rolls over onto (remember his original name) “Gay” Tyler. She then jumps out of bed, and stand there. I run in and stand there. Have it now.

Lee’s just looking at him. Someone has to say something. Might as well me be.

“Tyler? So,… did she… fix you?”

I don’t think so.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Culture, Family, Social

 

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