FreeVerse: A Box, A Life

by , under death, depression, illness, my mom, poetry

This is from a post I originally published on my blog at MySpace. (I checked the other day, and apparently I haven’t logged into my MySpace account since October 2008. Jeff didn’t know how that could be right, but I know it’s been a LONG, LONG TIME, and I know how the months fly by when you’re too frickin’ busy.) The post is dated Sept. 3, 2007, but I wrote the poem in the fall of 1988. I’m not copying the whole post, just the intro (with a bit off-topic) and the poem.

“Some thoughts this evening: my mother, old poem”

It is 810pm and I have no idea how long I have to write this because the kids could be fighting again any second and Jeff might need help. I did have some nice time to myself today, especially while they were out shopping (though we have no money, but that’s another story). I added about a dozen books to my LibraryThing catalog. Sigh – I love LibraryThing!

I talked to my mom a few hours ago, about as exciting as usual – while we’re talking, if I’m not up and around, I always feel like I’ll fall asleep. I was stretched out on the futon in the basement (where I’m sitting now, in the book room), and it is just SO HARD to maintain a conversation with a person who has almost no life. Sometimes when I tell people my mom is in a nursing home, and that she’s been there since her late 50s (she just turned 62), they express surprise at how young she is to be a permanent nursing home resident. A few have asked me how it happened, how she could be in this situation. But to me, it’s not surprising; I might even have expected it.

In the fall of 1988, my classmates were beginning their senior year of high school, and I, having dropped out more than a year before, enrolled in a GED prep class and a non-credit creative writing class. One of the poems I did for the writing class was about my mother, and seems almost prophetic now, close to 19 years after I wrote it. It’s not one of my best, but it’s pretty good for a 17-year-old.

A Box, a Life

The box she lives in
Is shaken with blaring sounds:
Radio, television —
Chaos never ends

In this dull, dead hole.
It’s a world all by itself,
Silent only when she’s still.
Awake, she’s a wolf,

Growling at people
Who dare to enter her home.
One day when she grows feeble,
Box will become tomb.

(Now it’s April 2010 again.)

I thought of this poem the other day, when I was driving, and whatever song I was listening to brought my mother to mind. (This next is not as morbid as it might sound at first.) I think it was Valerie who asked me, on the phone, after my mom passed away last fall, whether the funeral director, someone from hospice, or anyone at the nursing home had told me what condition my mom’s body was in, when she passed away. I didn’t know if I should be freaked out by the question, but said no, no one had told me. Valerie explained that my mom had basically been in a fetal position — and probably her head, and part of her face, were against the railings on the bed.

A fetal position… Of course that didn’t surprise me. The box that was her world grew smaller and smaller, and she rolled up to fit into it. I’d always believed she would.

(FreeVerse is hosted every Wednesday by the wonderful Cara at Ooh…Books! Click over there to find her latest FreeVerse post, and links to posts by others participating this week. And Happy National Poetry Month!)

© All the parts of my life 2008-2015.

  1. Valerie

    I'm sorry for the loss of your mother.

    as your poem says,

    "It’s a world all by itself, "

    and it's hard to see someone into that world.

    Very good insight for a 17 year old (or at any age!).

    (P.S. I love LibraryThing too!)


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