Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Taking A Shower

I think of you often
Every other day, mostly. These are shower days - cleansing rituals
I think of you
Mothers, daughters, grandmothers
Stepping into the steam with me
I wonder
About your
Are you tired?
I never imagined so many things 
So many things 
At 40 I imagined 45 to look so different.  I had just found the love of my life
The love of my second chance at life. I imagined so many new and wonderful things
Running the back roads of Wisconsin, canoeing the endless water ways that make up the BWCA
Coffee shops, art, travel
Making love
I never imagined getting sick. No one does, really. We give it patronage like a Hallmark greeting card
Understanding it on a poetic level. Giving gratuitous sentiments like we’ve walked even one mile  
We don’t know. We don’t imagine, really
I didn’t
Something as simple as taking a shower. Rationing out the days. This is what I do. As if it all stops if I just don’t think about it
Or maybe it really is just too hard. It takes too long
Taking a shower
When you’re losing your hair
I just never
Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities
All is vanity
Why can’t I be bigger than this?
This thing that insists on
I stand face up
Hot water flowing down my body
I watch the drain
As if this baptism
Slides down my shins and slips between my toes
Soap alludes
Some sort of
A ritual of sorts.  Lather makes things slippery. I brush my fingers through my hair. The first few strokes are the worst
Hair winds around my palms, wraps around my fingers like spun wool on spindles
I tell myself
Not yet
As the hair falls freely. Letting go of me.  I hold my hands up to the water, fingers down
As the fragrant spume
Carries dresses and patent leather shoes, pony tails and sparkly earrings, lipstick and sexy lingerie
Breathe in the steam. I calm myself, let the water pour over my face
Even though each breath feels as though ten thousand were gasping to get out 
Breathe as I turn and spin and maneuver
Shifting here and there so that the water can wash the hair off my shoulders
And arms
And back
And belly
And buttocks
And thighs
And calves
Stopping to tangle around ankles and toes as if to say
I have lingered not long enough, not long enough to
Prorogue the pain of letting go, to delay this grief
It’s sticky business, picking and pulling
Shifting and rinsing, it never ends
Not until I pile what’s left atop my head inside my white cotton turban
Do I feel the satisfaction of
Moving on
Can I say
Can I feel as though this soap
Somehow makes me
Can I step out onto this rug
And dry what’s left of
This disease doesn’t take anything from me that 90 years does not take from you  
I've  watched you grow old gracefully. I’ve admired your gray hair and your soft wrinkled skin 
And I’ve been empowered by your inner beauty.  Your radiance. The soft wisdom that passes your lips and finger tips 
It comforts me
It makes a path in the deepest forest of my being. A place of gentle knowing. A field for rest  
A settling
I never imagined getting sick
I never imagined
I never imagined
Letting go
And yet
I never imagined
In all your
Grace and loveliness
I think of you
You mothers, daughters, grandmothers
Who have come to the last chapters of your story
By age
By disease
By death
By letting not what lacks define you
Not by any letting go
By accepting
What is already


abcsofra said...

Accepting what is gone. Sometimes I know I cling so tightly like to a life raft adrift in this huge ocean. It is so very, very hard to let go to accept what is gone. I so loved this poem. It truly has hit a chord with me. Thank you.

Theresa said...

Thank you, Deb. It IS about accepting what is gone. And the thing is - those external things - our homes, our "things" our outer beauty - our "looks"...these things were never ours to begin with. EVERYTHING eventually fades - illness, age, death...eventually ALL passes. It's the realizing this very fact - all we have is already gone - is what brings me incredible freedom. These "things" are not me, they were never me. Me is the person I hear in my head, my spirit, the person I have been since the beginning of time - THAT is me. And nothing on this earth diminishes that. Nothing.
I am so glad the poem spoke to you. It was such an important one for me to write.

Anonymous said...

A very moving poem, Theresa. Makes me want to curl up with a warm blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and take a deep breath.

Prairie Star said...

I followed you over from Oriah's FB page discussion today.

Beautifully, exquisitely written. Thirty-four years ago today I was diagnosed with bone cancer as a teen. I remember what it's like...

Blessings on your journey...

Anonymous said...

mmmmm.....no words.

Theresa said...

Prairie Star, thank you so much for following me over - and taking the time to peek into my life. I cannot imagine what you went through 34 years ago - but I can imagine the strength you must possess. 34 years ago... Peace to you, my friend. I am so honored.

Anonymous said...

That is beautiful...thank you x