ronald baatz | outside forever

16 08 2011

POETRYDISPATCH No. 349 | August 16, 2011

RONALD BAATZ

OUTSIDE FOREVER

I visit my mother at the nursing home.
She tells me her mother and her sisters
had visited earlier in the day.

She tells me this after I take her outside
in her wheel chair, while we are sitting
by a garden of many yellow flowers.

I have never noticed this before, that
all the flowers are yellow, and when I
mention this to my mother she says

that of course she knows this. Even
though blind and struggling with the
loss of memory, she casually says this.

Her struggle is unrelenting, and for brief
periods of time she is aware that her brain
is not functioning as it should be. She

questions me. She wants to know what
is happening to her. I do not have it
in me to tell her that when a person is

nearing death, often that person will sense
the closeness of those loved ones who
are already numbered among the dead.

Is there anyone who thinks I should tell her?
Should I tell her she is dying? She does not
speak of dying. She speaks of living.

She asks how her cat Mooche is doing,
if the tomato plants have been watered,
if I have fallen and hurt myself recently,

if I have been sleeping well, if I have had
another dream of my father, if in my dream
he was in his garden weeding without

a hat on to protect himself from the sun.
She asks if I am being faithful to my wife.
I say nothing about death. I ask her about

her mother and her sisters. I give her
a chocolate kiss which she rolls around
in her mouth and sucks on and chews with

no teeth. She holds my hand and presses it
close to her face. She tells me she would
like to sleep outside, that when I leave

it would be okay if I left her where she is.
She wants to sleep with a breeze on her. She
wants to hear the cicadas and the trains at night.

She tells me that she could stay outside forever.

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11 responses

16 08 2011
Stefani Swanson

I like that poem about your mother dying, it reminded me of my own mother when she could no longer live on her own. She talked about my father as if he was still alive., I was so upset by this but I didn’t know what to do about it. Shortly there after she moved to a nursing home and died there. It was sad.Thankyou

16 08 2011
John Caddy

Excellent! Thanking you.

16 08 2011
amyjosprague

This is a beautiful poem, how do you always find such damn good ones? Check out Christian Wiman’s poetry from Every Riven Thing. Good stuff. And Matthew Dickman has a new one up at Narrative magazine called Benevolence that I really think you’d like!
Amy

16 08 2011
Ana Reyes

This is so beautiful. I love the way the title “Outside Forever” is re-contextualized for me by the end of the poem, as though the poet is deferring to the dying mother and recognizing that she, in her own way, knows exactly what is happening to her, and is gracefully accepting it in her own, symbolic way. That is how I read the poem anyways… the poet’s voice is so lovely and respectful, and his attempts to understand what the mother is going through, and find the hidden ingenuity of her declining mind, is extremely admirable.

16 08 2011
Gary Busha

Having lost my mother recently, this hits hard. Beautifully perceptive and written. Thanks, Ron.
GB

17 08 2011
Jean Casey

Very good, very close to the bone. However, I don’t need to know how she toothlessly chews a chocolate kiss. Realism is great until it strips away what is left of her dignity. Yup! I’m that old fashioned.

17 08 2011
Jeffrey Winke

Geezus this hits a lot of notes with me, experiencing much the same with my almost 92-year-old Mom. As my mom reminds me in her lucid moments, “This is no fun.” :)

17 08 2011
Herr Klaus

…reading Ronald’s poems is for me like watching a movie! (in my head)

17 08 2011
Erica Schanno

the feel of a breeze / she just wants to go outside / Helen needs some air
July 11 at 1:26pm via iPhone

18 08 2011
Bonnie Hartmann

Oh, Norbert,
…tearing up as I read this one. My favorite woman in the world, my Mom, died in April, 2010. I have so many memories of her in the nursing home, where we all struggled to accept that fate. We took many strolls outside, she in her wheel chair, pointing with her good arm to a bird, a cloud, or maybe to the breeze itself. I would pick up a leaf or a pine cone and she would savor the texture. She really couldn’t see. She too, never wanted to go back inside.

19 08 2011
Jude, hey

I know this woman – her name was Grace Genereaux; part of the heartache is that I was no longer able to share time with her, especially as she went through “this”, very similar times and her way of handling them. RIP Mom Gx.

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