No Corners to Turn

No Corners to Turn

I will have rounded a corner
(Maybe moved from one stage of grief to the next)
When I have deleted your phone number
And mailing address from my contacts
Consigning to the ethereal scrap heap
That picture of you on Thanksgiving
At the head of the table
In a heavy sweater from Bean,
The sleeves creased from your ironing,
The smile on your face
The emblem of triumph:
You are here.  We are here.
In this tiny, round image
All eyes are on you in shared relief
And joy that you are here.

What lies around that corner?
I cannot imagine the moment
I will believe you are not here.
I will not believe what is not true.
When death kissed you fully on the mouth
And the nurses brought you delicacies
From shrimp scampi to gourmet cookies,
Sure in their belief you would be dead in a day,
You ate until you were satisfied,
And then you kissed Death right back
On the mouth
And claimed almost two more years
Among us, following us on Instagram,
Making jokes, watching
Law and Order,
Loving us into the acceptance of your passing
That you were in no hurry to accept yourself,
Despite your pain.
You loved us that much.

You are in my starred list among my contacts.
Whenever I need to find someone, there you are,
Victorious, smiling, laughing,
Holding your family in thrall.
You are here.  I am here.
This is our triumph:
Love has one body, one voice:
Yours and mine,
Heaven and earth,
Round and around,
No corners to turn.

We go on.

Author: Sandy Lee Carlson

Photo: Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

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  1. Sandy, this poem is so moving and genuine, and addresses something that all of us confront. How do we erase the little mementos of a beloved person's life? I love that you follow the process of thought and feeling, at first thinking there must be a corner to turn when you will be able to delete that phone number to finally realizing there are no corners to turn. This person will never be out of our lives.