Archive for December, 1976

1976-12-24 Christmas Eve

Friday, December 24th, 1976
                          Christmas Eve

      With watery blue eyes and Norwegian accent,
      Hallard told me, with dignity,
      how it is to live on, afterwards.
      Not much to do at home;
      just the little dog she loved, waiting.

      Chuck's wife, Etta, had said
      he was sleeping on those same sheets
      she had put down after the funeral...
      sleeping in those same pajamas
      and never cleaning up after the dog,
      just spending the evenings in the bars
      until it was time to go to work again.

      Chuck talked a lot; a compulsion.
      He told me about the doctors
      and how hard it was to get the straight
      about those spots on the x-rays.
      One doctor was going to pass him off to another
      without asking him, but he cut him short.
      If they wouldn't consult with him, he'd look elsewhere.

      Rose said he's dying of cancer and that Etta knows it
      but that they don't think he does.
      Etta, I had thought, must be a little simple...
      how she walked around and smiled meekly.
      Unobtrusively passing in and out of our moments,
      not sad, just brittle, like a hurt child
      trying to be good.

      Hallard sat telling me how nice it was
      to have the family together at Christmas...
      the holidays were lonely times since his wife had passed on.

      And I'd been tolerant - pleasant to all of them;
      Rose's relatives and their holiday gathering.
      A bit boisterous and condescending and bored,
      and telling Rose, with barely concealed pride,
      how well I was putting up with it all.

      Hallard will go back to his Los Angeles apartment and his dog
      and Chuck and Etta will go back back to Washington like Rose's parents
      and these moments won't pass again for any of us.

      We won't sit here again in our ignorance and pain,
      the young and the old, the condescending and the patient...

      But its not so bad for us to be here together;
      they see us as spirits yet unbent
      and they can yet find some meaning and hope
      in our ignorance and our condensation and confidence.
      They were young once.

      And we, if our eyes were opened, would see great courage there
      in their eyes and their hours, courage, without cheering,
      courage in the face of death, aging and agony
      and in the face of our condescending youth.

                                 24 Dec 76

— Copyright 1965-2008 by Dennis Gallagher —


Sunday, December 26th, 1976

      Sat for hours with the sun pouring through the window
      and turned my cards...
      For hours...
      with the sun pouring
      on me through the window.

      And as the sun moved,
      I probed the mess with my fingers and mind.

      Its clear I can't win
      if winning implies arriving somewhere.
      I've never played a game
      I couldn't find the point to before.
      I can lay the cards however I want;
      by default or intention,
      and if I play nothing,
      the game goes on anyway
      minus my input
      but not my tally.

      Rose cares less for my confusion here
      than for my driving blindness.
      She feels time and her dreams slipping away
      more and more - as I watch and wait.

      And I, with no place to go,
      am ever more pressed to begin.

      The afternoon condensed to nothing
      and my fast faltered
      on its way to becoming a clear start
      in the unforgiving light of it's isolation
      as if it were so simple.

      No differently, I wait
      wistfully, for Rose and Danny
      to share their company with me
      to keep me from their absence.

                        26 Dec 76

                        - stayed home alone all day to think

— Copyright 1965-2008 by Dennis Gallagher —