Long hallway, doors on either side
Like the departure platform at a rail station.
No eye contact, everyone looking down,
Shuffling along the bland grey floor.
Away from the new arrivals
Lighting is always dimmed like perpetual twilight
And darkness creeps out of some doors like a black fog
We come to say goodbye to those who no longer hear,
And who stare blankly at the ceiling:
While we are looking at the floor.
Departure time is slowly approaching,
Breathing is mechanical like worn breaks
And the smell, the odor that's hard to describe--
Body odor with musty deodorant
Exhalation is pungent.
No talking now
It goes quiet at departure
As we silently stand in ovation as we exit
FORGOTTEN SONG FORGET ME NOT
She's not you — yet, neither are you, (anymore)
You would like her; I think.
Flaxen hair (like yours)
And I trust all the understanding
A widow has of memories and loss.
That helps, as I am daily learning
To be the reluctant guardian of your memories.
There was light in those eyes; I miss that
momentary parting of invisible curtains.
Feeling sorry for myself
Angry at you for fading
It’s a melancholy she lifts away
I enjoy the softness of her coy friendship
She walks across the room
Click clack click clack click clack
Heels announce her arrival
Like reveille played on rhythm sticks
I lift my head and softly smile
She knows who I am
Are these guilty thoughts?
Yet a lost melody starts in my head
Just trying to get out
Not the sonata she espoused
Yet not quite a duet
Can't seem to quite hold on to it
There's some emotion I can feel
Is it love or sorrow, I don't know
If I played the piano it would be jazz
Lots of aching sad notes interspersed with
A riff of high pinging reflective notes
As the bass softly throbs in the background
Classical romantic with improvisation: an unworkable chimera
Structured organization with freelance exploration
Her faith and my folly: how do I play these notes,
Having foolishly created a composition that can't exist
I’ll finish shaving and do my father’s stubble
Used a new toothbrush and combed his hair
Boy, I need to set an appointment with Dianna,
She has always cut my hair.
Set out clean underwear and socks
He likes those funny colored ones
Pull my slacks on; pick a sweater
Now help him down the stairs
I’ll get his meds and do my inhalers
He likes to read the news at the kitchen table
I’ll microwave some breakfast
It’s easy and quick
And this afternoon we both are ready
To watch some sports on television
Then take a nap.
We will sit in the same chair.
Richard L Ratliff is a baby boomer, born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. His Midwest ties have built the foundation and setting for his poetry. He is a Purdue University graduate with two years of engineering turned into a degree in English Literature. All of these eclectic combinations have given him a career as a boiler and combustion expert and poet. He has over two dozen published poems and three books on Amazon.