“It’s Time, You Say,” “Thirteen Eggs in His Pocket,” “The Morning After”

“It’s Time, You Say,” “Thirteen Eggs in His Pocket,” “The Morning After”

Image
Photo by Alex Guillaume on Unsplash

It’s Time, You Say

It’s time, you say,

it’s yours to make the call of when to stop

to feel the years

attack your joints and swell your knees until

you don’t agree

it’s fair to be in so much pain to move around

from bed to chair,

from chair to bed all day to what avail

precisely now.

You’re done, you say,

of all you’ve been on earth to do as man,

your cause fulfilled,

complete in ways you dreamed and some that were

just draw of luck

you took as signs of purpose, all the same,

the jobs, the wives

the house, the genes that passed to those who could succeed

and hold their own.

At ninety-three,

you’ve lost the will to be the ancient bloke

who needs to ring

a pretty nurse to get a wipe and change,

a diapered invalid,

the kind you judged, despised, in all your life.

The time has come

to close your eyes to leave behind the trap

your body’s become.

Your terms, you say,

you call the date of expiration now

before it’s late

to be the one to take the charge in full.

Command the heart

to beat its last, the lungs to stop their draw.

The time of death

is ten past six on Tuesday, January twenty-four.

Thirteen Eggs in His Pocket

I find him making the pilgrimage

One low step at a time

Moving his six-foot body

In crablike fashion

Dragging over the mud

A bucket of wheat

Lifting it a few inches

At a time

He leans over the bucket

Using it as a cane

To support his bent torso

From falling in the dirt

Face down

A fifty-foot marathon

Which he must make

to feel like a man

He has no respect

For the weak

He must prove to himself

That he can feed the chickens

In hospital slippers

Even as he dumps

The bucket of wheat

By the rusty gate

Spent

Then he disappears

For an eternity

Among the bare trees

And grapevines

Of the foggy December morning

When his dark silhouette

Finally emerges

On his return

He seems taller

Straighter than the crab

That dragged the bucket

“Run, get me a carton, he groans victorious,

I have thirteen eggs in my pocket.”

The Morning After

How can I pull the covers over my head

While I am waiting to cross the busy road

And curl back into my bed

As my feet touch the zebra crossing

And close my eyes to disappear

As the traffic light counts down to zero?

How can I stop the tears muddying my face

While I mount the heavy steps to the entrance

And not scream into the limestone facade

While I pull the frigid handles on the door

And press both hands over my mouth

As I moan, fine, how are you?

How can I stop seeing your still face

While I rummage my bag for the office keys

As your body is turning stiff in the morgue

And I dump the whole damn bit onto the hallway floor

Because you lost the will to live

And I can’t pretend that I didn’t die a little with you?

About the Author

Andrea Hellman

Andrea Hellman, EdD, is a Hungarian-born artist and associate professor of Linguistics/TESOL at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. Her art is available at andreahellman.com.

Read more work by Andrea Hellman.