By: Douglas K Currier
Long-term residential care smells of death:
incontinence, the odor of liniment, industrial disinfectant,
moth balls, menthol, old clothes, meds,
and the liquid, pervasive smells of the cafeteria.
I already lack the small-motor skills to take pills.
Televisions play at full volume. Voices inquire loudly.
Deaf is practice for dead. The senses slowly leave us
– taste and touch perhaps the last mute survivors.
When did we stop knowing it was time?
When did the grappling, bargaining begin?
When did we trade the ending for meds and operations?
Where is the ice flow, the surf, the mountain,
the wilderness that will swallow me?
I am only a used car in need of tires
and a rebuilt transmission – drivetrain shot.
Taste and touch – I hope to be too arthritic to cling to life,
to have lost my taste for it.
The neighboring dead
Day 115 – from the Posthumous Poems
I would be happy on a shelf in Corrientes
– Cementerio San Juan Batista – waiting
for the random family members to switch
out flowers they bought from the vendors
in front on the sidewalks under awnings
in the shade of the tall eucalyptus trees
I have loved. I can imagine them choosing
colors, trying to remember perhaps what
I liked in life – what forms, what scents.
I follow as they pay a young boy to bring
water and they make their way to the building
I share with others – orderly in rows and columns.
They clean out the dead and wilted and dust
the shelf, my porch, then place the flowers
and water them. They will think of me for a bit.
I will be the envy of the neighboring dead.
I might be content feeding the fish, becoming
the silt of the Parana River. Eternity could be
mornings and evenings, dawns, dusks, wind
and heat and rain. I could join the anonymous
dead out of Paraguay and the beautiful fish
and the innumerable islands and the women,
naked to the waist, washing clothes.
I could be satisfied urging grass to grow
in Vermont as a last, very last, resort.
Not a first choice, here I might be at home
and not a foreigner, not a tourist, not a strange
name, not a stranger presence, not a different,
slower tongue. The anonymity of grass,
the sounds of mowers every other Wednesday
of summer, the silence of snow, the educated
fragrance of falling leaves.
What I miss
Day 113 – from the Posthumous Poems
“Vivamos sólo de creer que fuimos.
Seremos siempre póstumos.”
“Resumen” Jaime Torres Bodet
In the grave there is no urgency of the senses,
no fleeting scents, no glimpses, no significant
sounds, taste of dust, no touching.
There is no hurry, no plans, no projects,
deadlines, meals, or hunger.
There is no waiting, no anticipation,
no negotiation of time or space.
Impossible to be late or early.
No worry. No worry whatsoever
– not money, not children, not friends,
not the empty opinions of others,
not love, not hate, not memory.
I miss all of these.
Douglas K Currier has published work in many magazines both in the United States and in South America. He lives with his wife in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.