Are You There? I Feel You Watching
By Catlin Rockman
My sister on her porch,
wet sparrow shelters,
thunder roars with beauty
somewhere far away.
She telephones me
with dead mother on her mind—
she had asked the sparrow,
are you there? I feel you watching,
all black eyes and pale beak,
soft feathers a-fluff.
I close my eyes, and speculate too.
What if you live on, after death,
fashioned of imagination,
conjured by lightning
in the brains of your loved ones?
Like pixels reorganized,
dematerialized yet so vivid
never really gone, just suspended
until the next crinkled question opens a portal
and you alight in the memory
Of your favorite cousin, perhaps—
in slippers, landing softly there
for just a moment,
Like a gift.
It’s an idea that makes my imagination
rub gleeful hands.
Such potential, this portal—
to reach through the eyes of a sparrow
and touch a heart
in a summer storm.
Mature Questions Fall Like Ashes
By Catlin Rockman
Untold stories lie solidly between us
on your old table, with pens and notes,
a jar of honey, candlestick holders,
a beaded purse, a glazed box,
stone salt & pepper basins.
I polished those after you died.
My table is clutter free.
Where are my stories?
Time was stingy and we were passive—
we stretched absence over absence.
Now mature questions fall like ashes
in the wind after a mountain fire,
frustrated ephemeral grey smudges
nagging the outdoor furniture.
Meaningless mosquito bites
on my thinning skin.
Our history was a grand canyon from day one,
splitting open our future
and dispelling shards of connection
in all directions,
across languages and continents,
step-parents, siblings, addiction
and my father, on a pedestal,
high in the Swiss Alps.
You and I, we gritted our teeth
and found no softness in touch.
One rare day in Boston
when you could still travel,
you reached out to hold my hand as we walked
down Searverns Avenue.
I cringed at the shock of your bony veins,
the reverberation of your hard stride
throughout your skinny frame.
I cringed at the unfamiliarity of your touch,
I cringed recalling your body
in uncomfortable ways.
Now, I have dissolved the capacity to cringe in my heart.
I grasp at my stories with a new softness,
and a deep regret
that I didn’t look time in the eye,
or truly see the deep beautiful wells
in your eyes before the ashes fell.
HSB has facilitated the “Healing Through Poetry” group for more than 10 years. Peri Longo, past Santa Barbara poet laureate, supports individuals in grief to express themselves through poetry.
To learn more about how to register for our upcoming grief support and community education groups, such as “Healing Through Poetry,” please contact the intake coordinator at (805) 563-8820 ext. 110. No poetry or writing experience necessary.
All groups are free of charge and donations are gratefully accepted. Please note: space is limited and groups are subject to cancellation based on low registration. Registration must be completed with HSB prior to group participation. No drop-ins please.