This Wednesday marks 6 years since my mom died. For the last couple years, I’ve made a comic in order to recognize the day. This time, a comic didn’t come out. Instead, what emerged is a poem. It’s an ekphrastic poem, though, so I’d like to think it in some way is tapping into the medium of comics. What I’ve noted, too, is that this poem is in a much different place than the previous two comics have been. The nightmares that usually spring up for me this time of year have been few and far between—or maybe they just don’t impact me the same way anymore? I’m not sure. I do miss her—but the pain has faded quite a bit.
Here is my poem:
Hanging on the wall
of the hallway
that led to the waiting room
of the treatment center
at the City of Hope
was a painting filled with wild animals.
That waiting room
made you nervous
made you nauseous.
Those others waiting
weren’t like you—
So you waited there
in the hallway
facing that painting
til the door opened and a voice said your name
(the nurses knew where to find you).
And over the weeks and months that you waited
you memorized the placements and gestures
of each of those animals—
leopard sitting, monkey scratching, toucan perching, rhino bored.
All those wild animals unnaturally piled together eased you
and from their strange, colorful, cacophonous world
they waited with you
in artificial calm.