Reaching for a Book
Elbows oxy-weighted and low,
his hands cross the gladiolus of a sternum.
A strain of steepled fingers, he clings
to castles in reread picture books. Leaded
light spiders through a nearby window
threading prince gold lashes through his eyelids.
Is there – white and wilting on his chest,
a rose he can’t smell? Does he imagine
the slide of a long thin snake that feeds him?
Has someone woven ivy through his fingers?
Are thorns stitching the open book between
his thumbs? Is he under brick in a walled garden
or does the hilt of a silver sword
rest against his chest? Is someone there?
Please, if you can hear, tell him a romantic story –
one where fluid drains away enchanted,
where the hero’s body is naturally blue,
where he’s not sealed off under the florescence.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
In moments when we are most compromised (through illness, through age) where do we find beauty? When confined to a sick bed, how do we stay connected to the beautiful? – Sometimes this connection comes through memory and imagination – sometimes through hallucination.
I’ve been astonished by the capacity of the dying to open to the beautiful. My mother died at home in her bed. She died in the month of May. I remember an afternoon, when my father told her “Hun, I’m going mow the lawn. I’ll just close this window ‘til I’m done.” “It’s OK, I love the smell of cut grass,” she replied. In the final weeks of her life, in the transformation of the everyday, my mother kept herself connected to beauty and, in turn, became more beautiful.
Deep beauty resides in the imperfect – in the broken, in the power generated by something that’s burning. Though a flower, a youthful human body, captures attention – I am always drawn back to the beauty of the worn. There is a potency in the eyes of the dying and I’ve been overwhelmed by that kind of beauty – in my mother, in friends. It is this experience that guides my writing.
Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth a chapbook published by Indolent Books earlier this year. His recent work can be found in the Bellevue Literary Review, Kettle Blue Review, Radius Journal and New Verse News. He lives in Malden Massachusetts and serves as the Deputy Director, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. More at: robertcarr.org.