My answer to the good and bad shocks of life has always been to write about them, maybe years down the road as an experience shaded to fit some character I am writing about. Recently my daughter Jennifer, who battled encephalitis and coma for her very life, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an insidious and incurable systemic disease I have battled for 35 years, more than half my life. Occasionally poetical with words, not at all a poet, this is what emerged about passing things on.
She comes to visit limping across the yard
along uneven areas of grass and gravel,
favoring her stiff knees, twisting left hip
to swing her leg out to avoid bending it,
every ginger step at the corners of her eyes
as wrinkles appearing and smoothing quickly,
stamped like the beating of her heart.
Smiling, raising wrapped hand, greeting
her mother near the small plum tree snowy
in first bloom, hugging, bound hand on
her mother’s back, another hard-earned smile
and allowing her face to be touched, studied.
Turning body with stiff neck, flashing eyes,
quickly a gritty smile, nodding to her father
on the deck, he lifting a beer, remembering.
The porch steps, the onset, tears in big eyes,
pain-rendered with questions, greeting
dying in his throat, his own swollen hands
little help, useless joints, fingertip sparks
transmitting traits and quirks and bumps,
eye and hair color and skin tone to kin,
the family body made manifest, her spirit
fired at times mixing spirits, locked cells
behind brave new faces, love and fear
constant companions, the gravity of living.