Saturday, April 25, 2020

Something Sweet

Once, there was a house full of things:
sofas, pillows, a china cabinet full
of pretty teacups. They bring me
my tea  in thick mugs that don't break
when I drop them.

On the bedside table, I pass the hours
arranging neatly, over and over,
the comb, the brush, the toothbrush,
all the things I own now.
I wish there was a soft woolly robe
in my suitcase. It gets cold here at night;
it is hard to sleep when I am cold.

I look at my long wrinkled toes
at the end of my legs, at the end of my bed.
They make me laugh
and remember hazy days in summer,
when I walked barefoot in the garden,
smelling the morning, and smiling.

I hope there is something sweet
after supper, something sweet
to make it worth waiting all day
for people who never come.

for Day 25 at Real Toads: the Suitcase Project

The prompt is to write a poem in first person about someone in a mental hospital, listing what might have been in her suitcase. I once worked in a seniors home, and have made hospice visits, and am always struck by how few possessions a person is allowed or has room for at the end of their lives. There would be photos of their families, and houses full to bursting with Things, and I would ponder how the women had once had houses full of things, while on their bedside tables lay all their few possessions, a comb, a toothbrush: no warm clothing or blankets, no belongings, no comforts. Just bodies, being housed.


  1. OHhhhh....I wish you were in my study with me right now as you would have heard the very loud audible sigh as I came to the end of this most amazing post. The details are excruciating. This is SO SO real. Just an incredible write.

  2. The second to last stanza is especially touching.. the humanity of the narrator shines through.

  3. "something sweet to make it worth waiting all day for people who never come." This is so evocative!

  4. So bittersweet, how you write about such an experience. You capture so much in your words - the living/dying in an institution, the returning to ashes with no possessions.


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