death / grief / Poetry / Uncategorized

Enroute to Saturn

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”  — T.S. Eliot  The Waste Land

So we sat there in early spring

after she got that dismal news

sat right on her back porch

and she wondered

if it would be possible

to fly off and touch

the rings of the universe

maybe pour a large

glass of sangria on Saturn

or sidestep through

a sanctuary of stars

she talked of metastasis

and pain management

and the taste of morphine

becoming the nectar of necessity

she also said

euthanasia might be

the way to go

I saw a brilliant red cardinal land

on the top of the fence board

glorifying this cruel spring

then I looked up as

her brother came in the gate

and she went to him

put her head on his shoulder

and I needed to

shrink into the woodwork

but I was outside

so I slinked along the honeysuckle vines

skirting the perimeter of the garden

that she wouldn’t be able to plant

then I dissolved completely around

a row of newly sprouted irises

pricking my finger on a newly

budded rose bush

those two comforting each other

holding that horrible illness

at bay for one moment

delaying the flight to Saturn

and the sanctuary in the stars….



32 thoughts on “Enroute to Saturn

      • My teaching mentor was 40 and I was 50. She had her Master’s and 3 kids with a gentle husband. She got pregnant and hormones took a seed of cancer and spread it. She had baby boy, 2 years later she passed away. (2006) When I visited her the last time, her toddler was trying to get her to suck on his popsicle while he crawled around on her bed. 😦
        It puts life into perspective, Lana.
        No reason for me to whine or complain. . . ❤

      • Sorry to add to the bummer news your neighbor shared. I look back upon my response and it doesn’t seem too supportive. Sorry about this.
        There may be a chance, or more than a chance, for your neighbor’s cancer to become irradiated and diminished in size. . . we can still hold out in hope for miracles, Lana.

      • Robin, I didn’t take it that way at all. I’m just behind on my responses. Cancer runs differently in everyone. This lady is very strong, and she has talked in a quite matter-of-fact manner about what she would do if faced with a super diminished quality of life. If it is where she can maintain her level of expectations, then it will be well for her to continue, if not, I think she is ready. You are so kind and considerate, Robin…a truly lovely person….hugs 🙂

  1. I am a deep fan of T.S Elliot and always moved by his tone of lucid fatalism. Cancer is so cruel and impervious to all conscious sense of suffering. The anguish felt by your friend and differently by you comes out so movingly here. “All I have is a voice” W.H Auden said, and you used yours very well here.

    • Thank you so much. I am also a fan of the poet. I had a hard time with that one way back in the college days, but the professor told me that I would come to understand it. Cancer is a brutal subject. I’ve not heard the Auden quote before. I like it. Thanks again.

  2. You have dealt with a subject that many have to face but you wrote about it in a subtle way and touches the ordinary yet cuts to the heart of dying. Morphine and gardens she won’t be able to plant. I like T. S. Eliot also but prefer his book of poems, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” for lighter reading. This is the second reference to Eliot I have read today so perhaps that is a sign I need to go back and read some of his works. An excellent poem and tribute to your friend!. May she find the peace to let go.

    • Thank you for those wonderful words. It has been so sudden and such a shock. I have been writing to sort my feelings. She is a super person and seems to be handling it well. I am really feeling for her family and son who is just getting out of the Navy.

      • Sounds like you don’t like extreme heat and humidity either. It’s a pale, light (redhead or blonde) thing. We don’t do well in heat. Did I ever mention to you that those of us so blessed (or cursed) by the sun are the Royalty of Atlantis? We had to come from somewhere!

      • That’s right, I don’t like it…but I sure live in the wrong place, ha ha. We’ve already been close to 80 degrees. Atlantis..I had no idea..sounds rather mysterious and cool.

      • I hope to do a novella series on the subject, but as an editor I rarely have time to work on my own ideas. I hope I live long enough to write at least half the stuff in my head. lol

      • I work at home, but I find myself doing the same just by shifting from the office to the living area. As much as I love to write, it’s still very tedious work, especially getting it right after the writing. lol

  3. Profoundly beautiful. This fatal reality, never an easy matter to wrap our heads and hearts in. So sorry. Here’s hoping for peace of heart and a breakthrough each brand new day.

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