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Laurinda Lind: “Elsewhere Meanwhile”

Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist

Laurinda Lind, “Elsewhere Meanwhile,” 2021 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize Finalist selected by Judge Mariano Zaro

In this poem the characters are real, complex. The poet brings the reader into the core of family dynamics with a narrative language full of velocity and truth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  — Mariano Zaro

 

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Elsewhere Meanwhile

The American Hindu monk I interviewed
for a little newspaper in a tiny town said
Ramakrishna’s throat cancer shouldn’t scare
me, it’s not that meditation makes you sick,
it’s that life means suffering. I think of
my mother’s father in his single bed at
the back of our house when I was twelve
while he called mama, mama, out of his head
with emphysema. Of my father with his big
dry tongue trying to ask where was he, in
the last hospital that would have him
when they quit feeding him so he would
die faster. This is called comfort care. I wish
all I knew was this, that Ramakrishna at six
was so in love with the saints he was drunk
on them, or my grandfather alive at the same
frequency as animals so they sought him out,
even in zoos, even a boa loose in a store
creeping along a counter to rub its big face
against his. Or my father who, in the silence
before it started to ring, used to say, “Answer
the phone,” and knew complicated math answers
before he even wrote the work to prove he was
right. And everyday miracles that seem
too minor to mention but suggest a great joy
we see only occasionally since we are so
exhausted inside ourselves. But my mother’s
mother’s sailor father ended up senile ripping
his sheets to caulk the leak he himself had made
in the boat of his bed, and my mother’s mother
sailed off that way too, out to sea in her psyche,
hardened arteries held together by her good cooking.
Her daughter, my mother at ninety-one, never knows
where she is or almost anything, so what about me
near the end of them, won’t I start spinning
in circles kept round by their constant repetition
as soon as today, sloughing off all I have to do
for some room undetectable by ordinary reason–
maybe raving like an actor playing Lear, but
probably just waiting for a dark full enough
that it’s safe to fall into it.

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