perlerorneq

john martone

samuddo / ocean 2013

perlerorneq copyright © 2013 by john martone samuddo / ocean

perlerorneq

perlerorneq – to feel the weight of life (inuktitut)

Someone moved the Guanyin I gave mom to my night table. J, I imagine. It rests on grandmother’s lace. The bed I’m sleeping in was my parents’ for the first decade of my life. The dresser next to the bed theirs as well, drawers shockingly empty now. J’s doing again, as she works through the grief of emptying out of the house. Back from the hospital tonight, sat at the kitchen table, and there was mom’s chair. She’ll never sit there again. And so the end of life recapitulates its beginnings. Once there were the first smile, first steps, first words; now there are the last time in a chair, in a house, the last coherent sentence. Her things enter the vast catalogue of no longer. And so she must understand, as she cries fearfully from her hospital bed into the emptiness – don’t let them take everything away.

there’s no hand hold

white knuckle gunwales this passage out of your mind

If only I could be sure of that. If only anyone else in the world could know for sure what transpires in those handfuls of neurons or mind lying in bed or falling through space, unable to tell people from phantoms, pen from knife, or whether we aren’t all upstairs in one of the houses that was once home. Vasubandhu begins his Twenty Verses, likening human perception to how someone with poor vision mistakes floaters in the eyes for phenomena outside. Mom sees strings and hairs everywhere and waves her hands to brush them away. What did Vasubandhu know?

She says we should sit on the stoop, go to the sandbox. She says she should go inside. She says she wants to go inside. She wants to be in her corner. Is the baby upstairs? Can we go to the farm again? Can we go home? And we have done that.

front door maple branches right in your face

hospital floor-tiles same as our kitchen’s

don’t leave me in the woods as if she were gretel – breadcrumbs

room so bright & sunny you don’t remember a thing

This nursing-home evening, worn-down veneer (not hardwood floor) ends at dirty molding. You run a gauntlet of residents in wheelchairs down the hall to her room. The wall behind her bed needs to be washed. She gets four small drawers and a closet. Not even a shelf for knickknacks. Roommate G has an oxygen compressor that runs all night. Mom wonders who’s cutting the grass. In disconnected words that sometimes aren’t, you hear how circumstantial and demented time is – the chance matters rising to sight, in talk, the turnings, contingent perceptions, images floating up from dreams, for so long.

talk about how she’d cook for you now you feed her

empty mirror soap dispenser fluorescence

mother sees fish floating in space – then they turn up in your dream

day a white curtain between 2 beds

what good this gate brother sparrow

A good supper – most of a small cheeseburger, pudding, a chocolate donut. I have brought a coloring book and some crayons (will this hurt her feelings?) but yet she can barely hold her crayon, making faint red dots on her handkerchief rather than the page. There’s also a book of stickers, but she can’t peel them from the backing. When dad arrives, he steps back at first to see us doing such things, but says nothing and I can see him taking it in. This is where we are going. He sits silently, watching the roommate’s TV, which does not penetrate his deafness, though the people’s courtroom blares away, a preposterous judge ruling on some subsidized humiliation.

Weighed down with books in airport, shoulder bag won’t stay on, slips off, making me lose balance as I swing around trying to catch it. his empty books too the weight

It’s just appetite, glutton, try as you may to convince yourself it’s something more. There’s that desire to find the book that will answer all questions – Traherne’s desire. There is that clinging to the vade mecum – Dhammapada, Hosai, Santoka with you everywhere, and there is the knowledge that the days of learning from books are pretty well over, that what’s left to do is something different. the hurricaned pine’s amber sun

mountain ridges ruled paper in the snow

a wood stove & no one home

(sandy, ii)

letting a dead branch hang there all winter

4’ tree stump good for table top we were a family

carry stove-wood listen to waves

4-inch wide white path to ocean no hand-hold but balance -perfect – see you’re no one – there

indelible your last name in collar & waistband

2-inch snow teeth chatter in a warm bed

watercolor dinghy the white wall needing paint

la lecon d’equitation (cheap reproduction) on wall above wheelchair lift

imagine -a thimble factory those spaces!

birch trees & pine trees we drift above a garden

It is like living in the same house with persons who have been mentally sick from birth. You are crazy if you imagine that you can find some long lasting peace or warmth or reason in this place. --Josho Adrian Cirlea Sometimes perfect bedlam – R’s Tibetan droning, C rocking forward a millimeter at a time in her wheel chair, panting home, home all the way; some other woman screaming in the shower, and one feels grateful the hall is well lit & warm & the nurses smiling.

her words out of nowhere another floral gown

that first sign— it’s all you can do to fold a sheet of paper

between one spoonful & the next for getting

white frame first church on hill to look inside – game for children’s fingers

sparkling stainless wheelchair

Her favorite flowers those silk ones in a black ceramic bowl. It was the story – you found them in at a Catholic convent in Nha Trang, the nuns saying nothing, smiling behind their Sprachgrill, and you could not enter the leprosarium. You brought the flowers back from half a world away, undamaged. it’s not leprosy still this mind losing fingers –

mother glows in this white light the walls are talking

Because mom told you years ago she once got an orange for christmas, you dream a 1930’s farmtruck bulging with oranges. A truckload of pickers, you one of them, climbs down from the bed, but the truck is still full of oranges, and you’re in a vast warehouse of oranges. Here’s a single bare segment on the ground. You pick it up and put it in your pocket for later --

so many names so many people down this hall & one in white knows them all

one behind another – horses of chauvet wheelchairs

going nowhere

wants to hold on

(sandy, ii)

with mother gone trees fallen just as well

go on -- get the pine sap all over

pietà -fallen pine caught in an oak

oak leaves hold on in subzero such people

flying home eyes closed all the way

the heating fails & here you are

look at that (out of ink)

your glasses fog up you’ve arrived

w/ alzheimer’s still knowing how cold

ayornartoq
(it can’t be helped)

A human being was created from nothing. (inuit creation legend)

hospital room

what’s left to imagine

a little oxygen & nothing to eat

that winter

seabird-sounds & a sea-green heartbeat-monitor

how can we not know we are strangers fabrications crystalline refractions when she blinks us away

at her bedside must be we are al ready ghosts

blows in from far side of nowhere woodwind thin world

blue sky you too empty shell

odd shape for broken seashell human being

thread & needle yellow plastic thimble what were you doing?

of course you’re washing dishes when she dies

you find her purple slipper shells under snow along the shore

snow blowing all day won’t settle

Day after she’s gone you head to florist to order flowers & staggered by smells of her father’s greenhouse 60 years ago can only say white gladioli. They do not have enough flowers; there could never be enough. blowing snow & ocean currents mother now

blowing snow & ocean currents you’re a dream

barnacles grow from a stone in your hand

Cirripedia In guilt’s overplus, shoes still soaked-thru, the next day return to water’s edge & throw back yesterday’s barnacle stone before it dries & inner feathers can’t reach out to eat. This is a new spot for you, where an ancient paper-mill stream empties out into harbor, just beyond the disused customs house. A raft lies anchored a hundred yards out, piled high w/ lobster traps for your kin. –But isn’t it always so – humble barnacle, all your curled foot’s effort gone into staying put – sessile – only to find (do you ever) that rock moves too, tumbles about in great tides or even human hands? And still you make your white facets – six of them – perfect as snow blowing now in great circles here. You stay inside & let go your instars.

now your mother’s gone is this silence hers? doe it comfort you?

a light touch con scious ness

torn photo of that shack beside her coffin

her forehead’s chill you almost topple the coffin

a brass space-capsule with handles for bearers

three steps up three steps down no one trips

a small brass lozenge your universe

just things now jostling inside a coffin

white flower grave whitecap harbor snow no more glaucoma mom

buried now too late to take a lock of hair here’s a blizzard

mother gone forever now you’ve lost your keys

coda after life

this after life – harbor side hill caves for cliff swallows or hermits honey combed silence you en counter only that

mother & children on their hairpin path (any stretch of which is a blessing) but they don’t remem ber you nor

can you say which one you were now they’re gone

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