Four and a Half Years

Most of the time I cannot feel the sides of my hands,
the pinky sides. Sometimes I realize I am not feeling
the sides of my feet, the piggy toe side. And then
I remember than I cannot remember the face
of the person standing in front of me and she
is happy to see me again and I don’t know her name
and I’m trying behind the awkward smile to recall
the place we met perhaps something will rise.

She knows me. She doesn’t know me, she assumes
some idea of me that I once was; consternation
folds her brow because I don’t remember. And she
is walking off, in something of a huff, and
I know my lack has hurt her feelings. I shrug.
It has taken four and half years to shrug
because before now, I blamed myself.

I blamed myself for not getting over cancer.
I blamed myself for not remembering names.
I blamed myself for forgetting and time slips
through my mind unnoticed and I’m late again
and again, so tell me the time I’m supposed
to arrive, again. No tell me the time
a half hour early and then I won’t upset
the apple carts and you won’t walk away

and all the apples are there bruised, at my feet
that I cannot feel, really and there are times when
I seem to be drunk because I am wearing clogs
on cobble stones, and while my feet no longer hurt
I am unstable. I am unstable and another says
it’s menopause and I say yes. Of course it is.
Of course and I abandon myself. Why –

Why did you? Why don’t you? Why not and
why can’t you, and I cannot answer for I never
ask this of anyone else. I snap don’t ask me why.
I don’t ask why there is no why
there is only words I used to know, there is only
four years of trying to learn a new trade, a new talent
a new life and the why you ask is four years old

twisting knots in my being, hot fear of losing
another hope and link to a life I want to have.
And why only serves the one who questions.
I’m sorry I don’t live in my head, that unfriendly
neighborhood that remembers the dream job
and the childhood summers with salt water tides
and how it is to sit with a dead girl, who’s heart
has just stopped as I washed her face. This before
my diagnosis, mere months between. I’m sorry

I did not return as I had been. I did not return as me
and I waited, and I worked and I fell so many times
into pieces, a broken clock brain, flagging spirit.
How do you tell another you cannot walk into a room
full of people alone? How do you tell another, please
remember this for me. So many drop away into
Cheshire cat smiles, with crocodile tears.

For three months this year I was pain free.
For three months I didn’t hurt inside and I smiled
just for me, for the relief, and then another part
goes bad, another intubation, another set of scars,
and another set of meds. For three months I was
pain free. This is what I hold on to in the dark.

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