How To Avert Another Personal Catastrophe

Wake up with a headache
A particularly unpleasant way to awaken

Wake up but don’t get up
Find that wonderfully scented
Heavy soft and supple
Neck and shoulders wrap
Drape it, unheated
Over your eyes

Drift until early afternoon
In and out of something like sleep
With sometimes pounding
Sometimes waves
Sometimes dance
Sometimes galaxies exploding
Parents yelling
Children crying
Lovers leaving

Something unknown, unknowable
Finally drives you up and out

Then something else
Something like normal
Check email
Text a happy birthday message
Read a column
Help your mom find mass on her TV
Think about dinner

(Edgy, edgy, edgy
Easily offended
Prickly, mouth dry
Skin zinging)

Gather herbs from the garden
For the noodles
Collards for the vegetable
Smoked turkey from the fridge
Dinner is easy
But mom needs something fixed on her phone
She can’t get the call to go through
The one to her friend in assisted living
Just down the road
But unreachable now
And the call won’t go through.

“It can wait, Mom, we are just about to eat dinner.”

“No, Shirley eats dinner at 5:00 every day.
I know that.
So she is finished by now.”

I raise my voice slightly, lower the pitch
And turn to face Mom
So she can understand what I am saying.
I stress the first word,

“WE, Mom, we are just about to eat dinner.”

Mom, whiny, offended and angry,
In that well-remembered

(Replies as she so often replied to Dad
Right before the roof blew off the house)

“You don’t have to yell at me.”

Now here is the secret
The secret better even
Than that little prince’s
Royal insight

Just don’t respond.

There is absolutely no correct response
No response to keep the roof on tight
No response to right the wrong
Salve the wounded
Soothe the aggrieved

Not even an apology

Just turn back to the stove
Keep cooking dinner
Get down the plates
Take out the cutlery
Season the collards

And it will all go away
Except for the zing in your skin
And the easy tears in your eyes
And the echo of thrumming

But that was there anyway.

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