Monday, September 19, 2011

What Happens on Sycamore Street


She waits in a house at 743 Sycamore Street
where the sun shines so brightly on the sidewalk
it looks iridescent and pink morning glories bloom
all day long in shadows, where a cat prowls silently
between houses, terrifying song birds, and at last
she admits she is waiting to die.

“My sweet potatoes, planted this spring, didn’t die
even though we suffered drought, but up the street
Mrs. Hoover’s fall-bearing raspberries didn’t last
the summer,” she says as she looks down the walk.
What she doesn’t say, what remains silent,
is how she wonders about her own fading bloom.

Her groom holds her hand, a mottled bloom
on his cheeks. “Nineteen years and…” but his voice dies
away as he thinks ‘til death us do part silently.
The cat chases a squirrel across the street
just as a Honda drives by. Squeals, then driver walks
around the front of his car, looking at the last

chase Fresko will ever enjoy. With effort, at last
he leans over and picks up the body, lays it in blooming
asters growing in the boulevard, wipes his hands on the sidewalk
as if the roughness will cleanse his palms. His is a die-
hard attitude, no need to find its owners; cat was in the street,
what can they expect. In 743 Sycamore, they watch silently.

“Do you think,” she asks, breaking the silence,
“that our neighbors will come to the funeral, my last
big show,” she adds with a tepid smile. “I’ll throw a street
party,” he says, “but I am a madcap, my love, my blooming
rose. Let’s us a party today, tonight before evening dies!”
Outside a small girl cries, kneeling on the concrete sidewalk

skinning her bare knees. Her father lifts her up and walks
down the road, crossing Sycamore, while mother silently
trails behind holding a blanketed ball of cat, now dead.
“Wrap me in a shroud like that cat when I die,”
she claps a hand on her mouth, shocked by her last
comment. He wraps his arms around her, sniffs the bloom
of her hair, freshly washed. “Tonight, babe, we party in the street.”

All things living will die, but how long we walk
on this Earth, how many streets we silently
traverse until our last is a bloom that cannot open until it drops.

2 comments:

Ruthi aka abitosunshine said...

Susan, this is probably one of the most beautiful writings of yours I have ever read. I have read through it several times and though it is sad it is also calming. Peacefully poetic prose, as only the Mindful Poet knows.

susanbudig said...

Ruthi, you honor me with your good words. Thank you for the comment and more so, thank you for your careful reading.

I began and wrote most of this while sitting in a house where I was providing hospice respite care. The woman I was sitting with had fallen asleep on the couch and I was just quietly waiting, looking out the window at her morning glories. She'd told me about her cat and then I saw a mother and child on the sidewalk and one thing lead to another...