GOODBYE TO ONCE BEFORE

Pattie Palmer-Baker
 
I buried my mother’s remains next to my dad and bled goodbye.  
Her gray-washed eyes, wobbly smile, heart-broken hands, I said goodbye.
 
Her dust, gritty with bone flakes, breathed out of a brown cardboard box.
Ashes so fine they seeped out the telling cracks for a grave goodbye.
 
When I last saw my mother still alive, her once straight hair white-whorled.
Pink grazed her downy cheeks, she breathed out cinnamon and sighed goodbye.
 
I kissed her rose-stained lips not cold, her face not bone-white with absence.
No death rattle­, I heard instead a faint buzz thread into goodbye.
                                                                                                                             
Next to my father her boxed dust-body lies eternally stilled.
His body devoured by maggots and worms to feed the goodbye.
 
Once my father battered his being through the restraining order.
His right hook smashed the policeman’s left jaw— an ill-fated goodbye.
 
He wore his blue terrycloth robe for the ride to the city jail.
My mother and I drank black coffee and dark unsweetened goodbyes.
 
My father called from the rent-for-weeks motel. He craved a Godspeed.
He coveted not days nor years but a forever dead goodbye.
 
My mother said, I love you too! No, don’t! and not one word more.
She hung up on a world of love forever and wedded goodbyes.
 
My mother lived and died through that long obliterating goodbye.
I, Rose, am still alive but sometimes pray for a splintered goodbye.
 
 

Over the years of exhibiting her work, a combination of her poetry in calligraphic form and collages of paste paper, PATTIE PALMER-BAKER discovered (to her delight and surprise!) that most people, despite what they may believe, do like poetry, and in fact many liked her poetry better than the visual art. She now concentrates on poetry.  She finds the ghazal both challenging and rewarding.  She believes the rigidity of the rules force her into depths not experienced when writing free verse.