Skies Never Ending as Man Stays True to Ever-glowing Love of Sister

For the struggle Chuck endures, new shape of memory

(Author’s Note:  These are benediction poems, tributes to lives lived and not yet completed, which are ways to put feet down in rivers once and then returning to never step in the same river twice. Lives ebb and flow with our own consciousness, and we are friends in many ways, including through the sounds of poetry.

We don’t always say good-bye when we should, and the person we write about might not have been in our circle for years, but something in that last gasp takes us to a whole, a desire for completion.

This poem is about a brother-in-law, all charged in the world of microbiology, PhD finished, and, bam, testicular cancer at 35, and, double bam, fungal and bacteria meningitis, and then, triple bam, runaway brain swelling, some more of that cancer in the brain, and, one day to the next, an articulate, brain rich young man, reduced to gibberish, confusion and memory recession. He lived hard in his head, no longer a person who could be left alone, put into brain injury facilities to attempt to bring some history and functionality back. At 35, he began living life as a man as a 12-year-old, in the mix wherever his parents took him, always wanting card and board games and a chance to rattle off birth dates and odd granules of facts still tethered to his brain. There, frozen by stratified memory, so many parts of him stripped away, with family to serve him, his sister there to grieve once when he no longer was that man, 25 years ago, and then, May 7, 2016, when Chuck fluttered away. A poem is my visualization of the man, inside and outside the filter of respect and love. Words are better than snapshots, more than tributes mouthed under a capturing moon.)

The shape of petri dish
a child playful
in magnolia
Valdosta a chip
in memory
playful history
with sister
children of farmers
landing in Paseo del
Norte, Thunderbird
etched from millions
of years, upthrust

boy finds love
elusive bacteria
microscope like talisman
simmering thoughts
mathematical magic
boy and girl share
camping, stars
endless northern
lights, his guiding
principle, love
seeking memory

children of mixed
cultures, interlopers
but transfixed by games
years sharing teenage
secrets, the rites
of passage bonding
hermana to brother
and his boys turn
to his magic
memory bashed by
cancer, yet always
grounded in “the games”
happy to be with
old faces, hands
on bright forehead
boys grow, boys
the shape of a man’s

the seasons pass
the light carries
into a mind that seems
jumbled, but the boy
stays young
as the body fades
the lifting light
he is, follows
dreaming of a thousand
touched lives, moments
in what can be only
called, transition
for Charles is for
many Chuck
to a devoted sister
Charlie holds hard
on her tongue

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.