This Poem was Submitted By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2003-12-06 21:38:29 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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As to the Site of the Preservation of Memories

I can hear even her raspberries whimper.   And her dead dogs whine. All this commotion upsets me. And I have been upset for quite some time. Fresh flowers arrive.  Unannounced visitors Whose acrid odors drift on a favorite tack. Quiet returns to her room, though slowly. Were those bats that flew in and out? Desperately, I think – “One can never be too careful,” she used to say... She’s even got Caller-ID and a dead-bolt. And yet she let it in like it were a pleasant young man with cropped hair and a sweet blue suit handing out pamphlets. “Never talk to strangers.” “Eat your vegetables.” Then die. And that’s why her cancer is just so hard to accept I decide to write an epitaph for her: “Mop up your own messes.” Or - ”If you want it done right, do it yourself.” The pile of paper in and around dwarfs the trash can. This is a popular thing now, creating the perfect little ditty.   Later, I’m at the funeral parlor.   He is slick. Marble or Granite?   He explains. Of course none of them end up on the stone. The big stone is replaced by a small slab. The slab barely has room for the dates. And no epitaphs.   No pictures.   No “Hello from Heaven!” So we’re left with the 18 by 24 or the 24 by 36. We splurge and agree on the large one. Marble.  And the dates.   Back in the car, on the road home, the image of her  lying in the coffin, lid down, dark as night, just horrifies me.   I think of fire and the option of burning her into ash. That image is worse. - I awaken from this, drenched. Perhaps a pine box is better for father – I think of Cocoa, blindly foll’wing her nose, Deep in the wood where the raspberry grows, And hope we can deal with the death of my mother. Back at Mayo – I meet her –ologists and get all the "gists" lined up like: “We’ll start “chemo” next week. Radiation if she needs it. I’d give her a year.  Maybe 18 months.” I’ll get her drunk and – I remember she’s an alcoholic. I could use that now. But we don’t. We just smile and hug and smile and say  “See you soon” and run and hide and cry. She reminded me as I left for the car: “I just want to make this as easy as possible for your father.” Jesus wept with me. The winds of November came early this year. The dog is gone, the berries picked for the last time. But through us she’ll live on –  in here.

Copyright © December 2003 Thomas Edward Wright

This Poem was Critiqued By: Carolyn Minsker On Date: 2004-01-10 00:21:01
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Thomas, I wistfully noted Mark pulling up oars, and followed his trail to your poem. It brought tears, for you, for me, and for beloved mothers the world over. No one ever loves you the way your mother did. The length of this poem would normally be crying with boredom, laboring under any other pen, but yours, here. I wasn't done crying. Carolyn

This Poem was Critiqued By: Jordan Brendez Bandojo On Date: 2004-01-07 23:59:10
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Hi T, I checked on the winners' list today and see this one is one of the top poems. I could no longer critique this since the time is almost up to proclaim this as a winner. Just allow me to say that this poem is worthy to be on top. So poignant and piercing! Kudos to this work. J.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-01-07 23:13:03
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
This absolutely blew me away when I first reasd it - then the holidays intervened and my critiquing window of opportunity closed!! It still moves and astounds me. You've created such a vivid character, and such a huge hollow of loss. The whole narrative is absolutely gripping. It's also laced with mordant humor and the miost vivid descriptive detail! It had better place high in the finals. It belongs up there. I'm not sure you need the last two lines. The raspberries and the dog are associated with the way the speaker deals with death, and when they are gone, we know that the mother has also departed. "Through us she'll live on - in here" seems to be stating the obvious because you've written the piece, we're reading it and she is being reanimated in the process. I really don't have enough words to express my response to this. I'd better just applaud, shout "Bravo!" and cast my final vote. Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-01-06 22:20:11
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.90909
Dear Tom: Why is it that the best writing seems to come from the deepest kind of emotion? This is as authentic as writing gets, in my opinion. I read it a few weeks ago and was overwhelmed with my own identification - so visceral - so truthful. So sad. All of these internal thoughts are familiar territory to me. I wish it were not so for either of us. Maybe this is not your own circumstance; it could be based on empathy for your patients. But I don't think so. The ring of truth is so thunderous. The admixture of "pine box", with Cocoa, "blindly foll’wing her nose" and the gentle rhytm and rhyme of "deep in the wood where the raspberry grows" contains enough sorrow and love to tear one's heart in half. As if I were not already undone, then you write -- I’ll get her drunk and – I remember she’s an alcoholic. I could use that now. But we don’t. We just smile and hug and smile and say “See you soon” and run and hide and cry. The last line above is exactly how we are - how I am - how I wish I were not. Let me add my words admiration for this piercing work to those of others. It truly deserves at least the recognition of first place in this contest, but better yet, wider publication. But you've said "But through us she'll live on - in here" as if addressing us at TPL, as if pointing to the "in here" of this waystation in cyberspace. I am undone by this poem - perhaps a poor excuse for my lack of a coherent response to your poem, to you. The "in here" might be within your heart, which I suspect is a vast space. I think every adult who has stood beside a parent with such an illness will know the exact truth of your words. How I wish things could be different. How I want to go back and do it all over again, only better. Joanne
This Poem was Critiqued By: madge B zaiko On Date: 2004-01-02 12:16:33
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.38710
A strong poem ... packed full of emotion!!! Thank you for sharing this desperate moment with us. I am blessed to have read it. Thank you -Madge
This Poem was Critiqued By: Rachel F. Spinoza On Date: 2004-01-02 09:58:28
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.28571
As beautiful and poignant a tribute as I have ever read. As we say, "May she rest in peace in the Garden of Eden and may her name be for a blessing." I can hear even her raspberries whimper. And her dead dogs whine. Incredible beginning which pulls us in with two hands She’s even got Caller-ID and a dead-bolt. And yet she let it in like it were a pleasant young man with cropped hair and a sweet blue suit handing out pamphlets. amazing personification “Mop up your own messes.” yes....excellent advice for living a good life So we’re left with the 18 by 24 or the 24 by 36. We splurge and agree on the large one. Marble. And the dates. the genius of this poem is in the details. She reminded me as I left for the car: “I just want to make this as easy as possible for your father.” Jesus wept with me. The winds of November came early this year. The dog is gone, the berries picked for the last time. But through us she’ll live on – in here. yes, in there Thank you Thomas and peace and healing to you and your family in the New Year hugs, Rachel
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2003-12-29 16:53:45
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
T: For me, this is the "poem of the month" and I hope other readers agree. It may be best but is quite difficult for me to critique in terms of striking the appropriate tone. Evocative it is but not maudlin, an obvious crisis when one loses his mother, but altho the pain is deftly drawn, I find humor here as well. I have always used humor to cope...a gallows humor...and that is what I find in places herein. But in chronological order, I must say your opening line is as good as it gets and the notion of her raspberries runs thru the poem. I expected it in the title ("Where the Raspberries Grow") but you came up with an even better one. The recalled precautions for her safety and then she lets the cancer enter and you use a nice simile here. Then when you remember her aphorisms, "Mop up your own messes" and "If you want it done right, do it yourself"...provided comic relief for me. Your depiction of being at the funeral home also displayed some wit..."No 'Hello From Heaven'" but you captured what we have been thru upon loss or a loved one...that terrible business of the funeral home and their lubricious salesmen who prey upon people drowning in grief. You segue to a scene in the car and your honest definition of fear and horror are handled with a delicacy that in itself is quite amazing. The flasback beginning "Back at Mayo-" is effective, T., and the line "I'll get her drunk" is yet another example of the humor that is inherent in your thoughts. "She reminded me as I left for the car: 'I just want to make this as easy as possible for your father.' Jesus wept with me." Stunningly exquisite stanza and salutes and pays tribute to her selflessness and generosity of spirit at such a time. And, oh my, the gorgeous ending: "The winds of November came early this year. The dog is gone, the berries picked for the last time. But through us she'll live on - in here." Her children are her legacy and none will forget a special woman as she. This is tender, loving, and the best poem you have written, T. I will not belabor any point as it feels that anything else said would be supererogatory. My deepest sympathies for your loss and for sharing this poem with us. Best always, Mell
This Poem was Critiqued By: Tony P Spicuglia On Date: 2003-12-24 12:11:35
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Never a better piece of this theme written, essay, sans form, form self sustaining. Each line, I walked the distance, and each feeling too familiar to escape. Thomas, I am not sure what, when confronted by free verse, is considered a valid when analogy is the presence contained within, and metaphor is the memory that remains. I do know this, that I was glad to have shared the moment with you, and the moment was projected from the paper to my soul. The metaphor of platitudes which outlive the speaker, being as the children who keep alive the spirit of the deceased is mighty. Platitudes, like family, are almost genetic, an echo of what was, projected into what will be. wonderful piece, not strutural suggestions.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Gerard A Geiger On Date: 2003-12-20 20:21:28
Critiquer Rating During Critique: Unknown
Dear Thomas; What a sad,thoughtful,soulful work about facing the preparations involved when planning for a terminally ill parent. Heartwrenching...nostalgic....bittersweet... and sometimes cut and dry, like when picking out the proper...cost-effective headstone or marker. A very good piece...I love the straight forward presentation....and the closing sentiment that through us she'll live here. A thoroughly wise and poignant work... Thank you for sharing this with me...I will remember it for quite a while... Take care, Gerard
This Poem was Critiqued By: Irene E Fraley On Date: 2003-12-16 21:30:20
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.66667
What a beautifully crafted poem, and how true to reality. This poem reads well, is emotionally touching without being overwhelming. What impressed me was the restraint in the poem which seemed to intensify the feeling of loss and grief. The poem is easy to follow for the most part, although I did have to re-read the part about the stone and also re-read some of the early stanza's: the bats, for instance. The thing is, none of that detrcted from the power of the poem. The mind is often like a tennisball bouncing off a backboard in the way in which it flees into other associations when the thoughts of the pain get too burningly hard. My thought was that this poem is like a fine wine, in that it has to be savored slowly, examined and tasted slowly in order to appreciate the skill with which it is constructed. On a more personal note, there is (to me) no loss greater than the loss of a parent, and I identified with this poem more than was comfortable to do. The title of the poem is perfect in terms of language and emotion, and ties the poem together very well. This is the kind of poem I love to read as it is both life and art. Rene Fraley
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2003-12-12 23:55:33
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Hi Tom. I feel your pain. It's a hard thing. This is a hard time of year to be without our Mothers. My Mom has been gone for six years now. The day she passed is as vivid as if it were yesterday. I went to the grocery that day and while I was standing at the checkout, two masked men robbed the store and there I was standing there with my hands in the air while his gun was pointed right at me, face to face with death. Afterwards I went home and got a phone call from my sister telling me my Mom passed away. Worst day of my life. "the image of her lying in the coffin, lid down, dark as night, just horrifies me. I think of fire and the option of burning her into ash."---I could sooo relate to this thought. One thing I can tell you is the sweet memories are the very thing that cushion the blow and help me to never forget her face and touch. This is a heartfelt piece that truly touched my heart. Thanks. Jennifer
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2003-12-11 16:52:34
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.71429
Thomas what can one say....I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother........and the pain felt within these lines is heart wrenching......very well constructed and word flow brings forth the pain and suffering not only felt by others but perhaps endured by mom as well even with her wanting to make things easier on dad.....her love remained true to the end to all of you, and that is something one should hold onto you have your own guardian angel with a name you well know, with a heart you feel within your own, and never fear she is always near. Thank you for posting this most difficult piece to write and share.......the pain we feel is often held tight within causing us more then the original pain. You will now be free to share this with others, helping them ease their pain as well. Be safe and God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mark Steven Scheffer On Date: 2003-12-09 16:33:33
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Ho, On further thought . . . no redacting from the redactor. You have temporarily bottled the bastard - I mean the demon in the tempest, the roil without the glass. I suspect that guilty creatures, reading this poem, would melt at the pathos in the screen. Suspect is a lie. Your humble servant, H
This Poem was Critiqued By: marilyn terwilleger On Date: 2003-12-08 21:31:32
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Hi Tom, I know I don't have the vocabulary to do justice to this poem. I have read it three times and have a huge lump in my throat. I lost both my father had not been sick so we were not expecting him to die when he did. But my mother fell when she was 91 years old and that ultimately led to her death...I was not ready. I feel, as I read your words, that you are sitting here telling me your feelings and the things you remember about your mother...which will never leave you. The things she said are so familure as I think most of us moms say those things at one time or another....old adages that are handed down through time. The tone of your words are so sad and somewhat desperate to stop time and go back to when she was not sick. She did not want to worry your father and I do so understand that. The selection of a casket, deciding on a tomb stone...gut wrenching duties when all you really want to do is sit by her casket and cry. This entire writing makes me want to reach out and give you a hug...that is the 'mom' side of me. You have done a wonderful job of putting your emotions into writing otherwise it would not have affected me so. Peace and blessings...Marilyn
This Poem was Critiqued By: Sherri L Smith On Date: 2003-12-07 23:44:35
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.50000
Thomas, This brought tears to my eyes. Almost the exact pattern that my Mom's illness took. From Mayo, where I heard the awful words, "I thought it was malign, but it isn't." Such a horrible time, and downhill from there, I feel your pain, I have been there. I am glad that you could write it, I don't think I have actually been able to put that time of my life into words. You have done it beautifully. Sherri
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