On Expiration

One week later, life hasn’t changed. 
I miss her, true, but I am contented with it,
her good death, after living so well,
learning lessons on being happy, 
being grateful, generous, and engaged, 
difficult or not, often trying too hard, 
to avoid the appearance of ignorance, 
seeming uneducated, she hated that…
she was as a recovering redneck, 
a poorly cultured country girl gifted
at putting on appearances, hiding imperfections,
only a few compared to her natural beauty and charm
emanating from within an endless depth of loving compassion, 
a sweet sentimentality fresh as gardenia. 

Lady poverty taught her to worry, 
a habit of stuffing closets full of things
she or someone else might need someday, 
saving gift wrapped boxes of new clothes
ribbons and cards saved to remind her of who gave them, 
coats, hats, scarves, gloves for every season, 
if she could remember she had them. 
Never waste food either, and taste it
to see if something has passed its expiration, 
which may have been what made her sick, 
throwing up for days, just before the heart attack
that put too much stress on that 95 year old body,
sent her to the ICU, to say farewells
before crossing the bridge home. 

I’m contemplating a summer, 
devoted to her memory, learning
to be happy again, living fully engaged, 
discovering gratitude, becoming more generous
at least with some folks, screw the others, 
to try hard to get this old boy back in shape, 
if not for appearances sake, to check my redneck habits,
not pretending to hide my imperfections, 
not waiting to begin again, still daring to live
without her blessings or embellished praise, 
remembering to clean out my closets, pack up the boxes
of worn out shoes, faded shirts, wide paisley ties,
mismatched socks, and to always remember – 
throw out anything with an overdue expiration.


Richmond, VA

I write to stay alive, aware, and to notice the beauty around me, a troubling foolishness I find hard to resist.

Melvin Dowdy1 Comment