Mermaid

“The flower may die, but not the flowerness.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Midlife, says this article on menopause,
is when we need to take care of everyone else

while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves
when we’re most filled with doubt.
That must explain

the palpitations every time I hear the weatherman
on the late night news talk about new hurricane

warnings. And my own exhaustion: winded or weepy
before noon, then by 2 pm wanting to crawl into bed.

But I can’t because I still have a bajillion things
to do: pick up the kid from school, rush home to pull

something out of the freezer for dinner; then rush
back to campus to prep for my evening class.

Near midnight, I crave chocolate, or a thick slab
of buttered bread. Meanwhile, dustballs thicken

and rise like new islands under the beds, crisscrossed
with grids of hair. I suspect the Saint of Doing it All

has retired. Or has she moved in with my older daughter
who’s just had a baby? When she asks me Is it really

this hard all the time? I try not to say occupational hazard
too quickly. I try to remember what I was like when I was

her age: young mother myself, lost in the chaos of diapers, rash
cream, talcum powder, and debt; wondering on a quick conference

trip away if I was delusional or if, as I slipped into the rest
room to relieve the pressure from milk-turgid breasts, I heard

the motor of the portable breast pump wheeze metaphor,
metaphor, metaphor.
My doctor listens sympathetically

and writes a script for Wellbutrin. To take off a little
of the edge
, she says. And, Tell me how you feel in two weeks.

When I don’t forget, I try to remember if I still feel like I’m
sitting in the second to the last car before the whole train goes

over the cliff. I try that new yoga move we learned in class
called Mermaid— where you lie on your side with knees bent,

then trail one arm over in a half-circle across to the other side,
while touching the tips of outstretched fingers to the floor.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Bestselling poet.

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