Saturday, April 01, 2006

poem day 1: Madame Curie and Terry Shibo Meets Jack Kevorkian

Madame Curie and Terry Shibo Meets Jack Kevorkian


They told me today I have a brain tumor, small

they said, and not malignant.  In my dream of Terry Shibo,

a redneck walks through her room with his rifle and hunting dogs.

A small brown bird flutters in the small brown grass.  Its heart

falls out in my hand.  But no, it's the telephone

spewing words.  Brain tumor.  The bird lifts

from the grass—brain tumor—and flying low, disappears

into an ocean of grass.  One little brown bird.

The hunter shoots anything the moves, but Terry Shibo

doesn't move.  The grass doesn't move

around her.  I search the swamp and hemlocks for a stump

or log, a place to sit.  No one asked me if I was sitting

when they said, brain tumor.  Once, Dante called to read me a poem. 

In my dream of Terry Shibo, the sun hangs orange

in the cage of her ribs and sings like Maya Angelou.

I was on my way out the door.  Are you sitting down?

Dante asked.  I sat.  I sat for seven hours, his words echoing

in my head. I am Beatrice he said. I am Narcissus and you my pool,

my mirror.  I am Dante, he said, and you

are the seven layers of hell.

A woodpecker hammers a tree, drums

and drums.  Today, no one asked me if I was sitting,

They let me stand, staring, while they said, brain tumor. 

In my dream of Terry Shribo, bees have made

honey in her skull.  Loud in the swamp around me,

peepers sing.  A woodpecker hammers.   Her brain is honeycomb,

honey seeps onto her tongue.  In all that darkness

something sweet.  Or the memory of something sweet.  Hazy

in the hemlocks, the sun sinks.  I think about morphine, about making a will. 

About surgery and radiation.   Around me, the woods darken.  Geese fly over.

Or the memory of nothing at all.  In my dream of Terry Shibo, her eyes flicker

and open.  In those blank pools, she sees the sun sizzling into the ocean.

A geyser of steam erupts in the newborn darkness.

Around me, trees are dreaming themselves a forest. 

There's a hole in their dream where I sit.


Mary Stebbins 060401a, 060330a

I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats


Kim Carney said...

those are beautiful words fitted neatly together about your terrible news! Kick that tumor out of there, by the sound of your bio, you have the power ;) -- my good thoughts are with you Kim

Anonymous said...


This is an absolutely beautiful, powerful, moving poem. You are a shaman.


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thank you Kim and Pat for your kind words. Mary :-D

Le Viking said...

Beautiful. Apaisant as we say in French, even if the circumstances are not.

Un sourire de La Butte aux Cailles. Take care.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thank you again and again, Viking, for your very kind comments! You are sweet.

Merci! Merci beaucoups!

Un sourire pour vous!