When I Live in the Night

Life has turned again, which it does when living with a mother whose mind says one thing and body says another. So 3 a.m. comes again and again.

I can go months without reading poetry, but suddenly the words return. This one from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer





Into the Dark Again

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Dark and getting darker—

nothing to do but to make of the body

a home for darkness,

to open every secret drawer

where we hide our private darknesses.

Who knows what might happen then?

How immeasurable we are. It is only

terrifying until it becomes freedom.

Grace comes in the strangest costumes.

Did you really think you didn’t need help?

This night, stay awake.

Some things we can see no other way.

My favorite view and time of the day. This has been a difficult three weeks in Rhode Island, my childhood home. Usually, I play, swim, eat, drink, and rest. This “vacation” has meant taking care of my mom — in so many ways.

But, I am grateful for the time with her. And I hope any decisions I must make for her will help her live a good and happy rest of her life.

So, in the morning, I walk down to the dock and breathe.

To Grow Old

Poet Donald Hall died. His poem “Affirmations” is one that is on my mind today. My mother has dementia, and with it comes moments of anger and aggression that she no longer anticipates or remembers moments after they pass. Instead, I try to focus on the times she shines, as she did recently in the hospital, telling every nurse and doctor what a wonderful place it was and how kind everyone was to her.

“What is your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Your hair is beautiful”

She said this to anyone who walked in, knowing after all these years how to be gracious and engaging. But, in the end, she will forget even that.

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.