Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reader's Art 12: Jennifer Vignone

Reader's Art 12: Longing for Home   Jennifer Vignone

Fall 2011
Kitakata, Gampi, encaustic, linoleum cut, gold leaf, pencil, original text, ink, nails, wood. 

Following is the text of the book.

"Let me die," he says. 
He is yelling it at Mom,
at the nurse, there in his room, 
at me at the long end of the phone 
and at God -- hovering, 
as he'd like to hover, 
freed from his stagnant frame.
"I'm old and want to die in peace."
All the yelling doesn't seem peaceful 
but I know it is what he wants.
We had to remove the gun and knives 
after we caught him with 
the .22 in his mouth. 
Were his hands too arthritic 
as he fumbled for the trigger? 
Or was he, even then, 
thinking it over?
I wondered what it would have been, 
over the phone, to hear the silence after the blast?
"Why didn't I find you on the floor?"she demanded. 
He had threatened to throw himself 
from the bed in an effort 
to kill himself.
In the delicately gnarled strands 
of their life together, 
they felt out the hereafter. 
Mom negotiated the exit 
as he struggled in his unresponsive shell.
Their conversation was peppered 
with allusions to the great beyond.
Its smell was in the air. 
She said to him, ìI thought you'd 
be more of a man," 
in the way he dealt with age 
and what followed.
I think of the time that I cannot grasp.
And what if I could, 
but grasped the wrong moment?
Mother. Father. A woman and a man, 
in time, and running out of time.
A flicker of light suddenly blinding gold and yellow 
and white in hand-to-hand combat with Darkness. 
A bird wing glide suspends briefly before free-fall.
Are there miracles?
I'd never understood the things 
that seemed so important to him -
ancient not-working timepieces, 
tie clips, old radios that he described 
as brand new, his Hathaway shirts 
with their three-hole buttons - until now. 
These were the things he had to offer 
after so many years. These were his legacy, 
not of typical fortune, but of a life.
I have an image of him in my head 
from a photograph of him
as a young man, before knowing my mother. 
She sits now by his side and holds his hand. 
She dials me with her free hand 
and rasps into the phone. 
He sleeps and when he wakes, he gasps. 
I think he is surprised to find himself still here.
Rich laughter chimed like 
heavy glass but I couldn't tell 
what caused such a sound. 
Spirals held me enthralled, 
rapt, terrified. 
I wandered about, 
hoping not to burst, 
but not afraid to die.
Will I, in my final moment,
hear my own thud? 

Reader's Art 12: Longing for Home
March 16- April 26, 2012

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