Helping my mother read poetry for a college course.
"It doesn't make sense," she says.
A poem about green chiles. Virile, youthful, powerful, beautiful chiles. The poet thrusts his blade into the chile, mouth hot with lust.
-My mother has always cooked out of cans.
The poet had spent five years in a maximum security prison. An orphan at a young age.
"All writers are paranoid schizophrenics!," my mother says with a laugh - the same knowing laughter that erupts when she says something outrageous.
She is not sure what these words mean.
"What is he getting at?," she asks to the walls.
I look around the room. The house is meticulously clean. Everything vacuumed, catalogued, arranged in display cases or in lazy susans, arranged on uncluttered coffee tables. My mother is an administrative assistant, my father works with his hands.
And, "no wonder you're a writer."
A gentle ribbing. She pauses to look out the window into the yard - birds picking seeds at their feeders, growing fat and slow on the easy life.
Maybe that last statement was too much I think as I watch her shake her head in sadness. The hospitals are not but a year behind me.
"Sometimes I hear poets do not even know what they mean."
It is warm and comfortable here. Mom pats the bed, says, "come up," and the cat circles the floor.
Thick walls of silence between the wooden furniture. Comfortable silence, knowing silence.
Outside I smoke a cigarette, a living machine on a slab of concrete overlooking the hill. Clouds cover the sky in roving packs and I am fighting with myself. I feel my limits and meet them. No changing the sky. Through the halls of time and memory within my mind, no place to return - I am running and the future today looks like rain.
I decide I am not losing my mind.
There is nothing to grasp.
Disintegrate a little: a green chile becomes the virility of a culture, the clouds a pack of sky warriors. There is no point and no truth to the torrid swells of feeling, flights of imagination. It lives and breathes a mystery beyond me, beyond you.