Bio Note: Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I still live in Los Angeles, which I thought I would leave long ago for a place in the country, and that I have worked as a legal secretary for nearly a quarter-century now. My close friend Jane Culp has offered me many respites from city life at her home in the high desert near Anza. These poems are for Jane, and for her beloved, Dick Bogue, who died in August 2021.
Who Helps Who
My friend, whom I’ve come to help in her grief, feeds me cherry chocolate-chip ice cream after dinner, recommends walking in the desert before the heat rises, mentions roadrunners and warns about fire ants, offers her painting studio so I can write and read for a few hours before we begin the job, if there is a job, the house already tidy, mountains of paper moved, pathways clear. Sleeping on her side of the beloved’s bed while she dreams down the hall, I am awakened by his watch sounding its alarm at 2:22, near the hour he passed on her birthday 2 weeks ago.
A rare thunderstorm the night he died – rain pummeling the desert, forcing sediment to the surface. Caliche, she calls it, shiny mirage of a landing strip in the distance, shrubs looking like the buildings of a sudden town. By the road it curls into ribbons. Want to get out and kick it? she asks. I always need to hear it crunch beneath my boots.
he wrote at the top of the page, and then nothing more. On the back of the notebook prices for sawblades, phone numbers, the date and time of an Alzheimer’s talk. Dismantling his stockpiles so she’ll know that he’s gone, she gives me the notebook for free.
©2021 Penelope Moffet
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