A couple of weeks ago I received a package in the mail. Fellow writer and Tripper Jennifer Evans, had sent me a collection of poems she had compiled, penned by MS’ers about their experiences, called Touching MS, Poetic Expressions.
My first thought was delight; how nice to have received such a thoughtful gift from a stranger.
My second thought was Oh God, amateur disease-poetry. This is going to be terrible.
I poured myself a big glass of wine and decided to give it a peek, because these are my people. To my surprise I ended up reading the whole collection in one sitting, cover to cover. It’s not all Tennyson but some of what I read rang so true to my own experience that I easily could have signed my name to it. (I mean, not enough swearing to convince you I’d actually written any of it, but that is why I don’t write poetry, bitches).
Don’t be fooled by the flowery cover. There’s nothing sugar-coated about what’s inside. At times hopeful and at times raw, it will remind you that you are not alone.
Like this one from Marie Kane:
Charcoal fire lights our patio bricks. You turn the steak,
reveal crosshatch pattern of the grill.
I sit above you on the porch; we are silent as we often are.
Perhaps you regret serving steak, which you have to cook
and slice, and regret having to clean up this dinner
with its vegetables and rice, and even rue the decision
to marry me now that I am crippled, not able to do
as I used to –
anything, really – and you are so quiet I want to
make as much
uproar as I can, rail against you for being so
You finish grilling, climb the porch stairs, kiss my shoulder,
and enter the kitchen. I follow, my cane catching the metal
strip at the entrance. I grab the door jamb to keep
“Are you OK?” you ask. There is nothing in the world that
could make me tell you the truth. You remove the red
cowhide grill gloves, fill the white plate with asparagus
thinly slice the London broil, reserve the most tender for me,
and with the same steady hands, help me into my chair,
guide it to the most suitable position at the table, present
and light the candles. We eat by their faint glow, and
secret self responds to your generosity with embarrassed
compliments about the food. Later, I watch you sleep,
scent of the grill in your hair, while your hands –