Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moving Mary

Moving Mary
from the bed to the toilet
was like moving an angora sweatered mountain.
At close to four hundred pounds,
she was slow as a creeping ice floe,
and each step
(she hated the jouncing of the power lift and wouldn't let me use it)
was a drawn out adagio of aches, pains, and complaints.
By the time I got her from Point A to Point B,
we were both exhausted and trembling with fatigue.
But, the back and forth was the easy part.

The hard part,
the part that always seemed to eviscerate my patience
and transmute me from a smiling caregiver
to a clenched up ball of iridium black rage,
was the infernal standing around and waiting
as Mary methodically rearranged every item within her reach,
then painstakingly instructed me as to how to arrange the rest.

"Move my marzipan fruit a little closer."
"The remote goes on the left."
"Can you scoot my pillow some?"

Jesus wept,
and now you know why.

Just as the thrum
of the boiling blood in my temples approached unbearable,
we would finish,
and with pats and smiles and mawkish tears of gratitude that didn't quite ring true,
she would thank me and finally let me go

(nerves shot,
hair a mess of frizz and sweat,
vertebrae in my back compressed
to bits of gneiss)

take the break that I had been scheduled to start twenty minutes before . . .
as Mary damned well knew.

Control is a funny thing, isn't it?

Shawna's Monday Melting words
strung together for Open Link Night at dVerse.

47 comments:

Mary said...

I suppose Mary had so little control of her life that she tried to control the little bit she could! Sad story..for both Mary and you.

Brian Miller said...

jesus wept and now you know why...haha...yes indeed...i might have gone a bit daft myself...and i agree with mary it probably comforted her that modicum of control...

Anonymous said...

You did an incredible job incorporating all of the words! Bravo. :)

I'd love to read the same story, but from Mary's perspective. I think it'd be a tearjerker. She must be terrified within that body, so limited and confined.

This is my favorite: "clenched up ball of iridium black rage"

Shawna
rosemarymint.wordpress.com

oceangirl said...

..adagio of aches, pain and complaint. I feel it in your words.

Laurie Kolp said...

Reminds me of my grandmother towards the endo of her life.

ayala said...

I guess that's all she could control...sad for her and for you. Good storytelling.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Much longer than your usual approach - like Mary had you in her grip and wouldn't let you go until you told the whole story. Start to finish, a brilliant portrait of two women caught up in a difficult conflict.

chromapoesy.com said...

Control does such an amazing job of destroying intimacy; you've captured this so well.

Claudia said...

it is indeed...and you captured it well.. i have seen sick people tyranning their whole family...that's the only thing they have left..and that makes me sad...great capture mz

Daydreamertoo said...

I would have to agree. Mary may well feel as if her life is so out of control, she had a desperate need to control that which she can but, having cared for my late life partner, I can truly say, I know how much it can frazzle the nerves. Not that she was as bad as Mary but, I can see why sometimes you may want to slap them to just get them to see how much hard work you are doing for them and for it to, just once, be appreciated.

Anthony Desmond said...

mary's a control freak.. poor thing

signed...bkm said...

i would have no patience for this task or for miss mary...that is the colder side of my heart....well said mama...bkm

mrs mediocrity said...

ah, proud mary...
this is wonderful, a tale well spun that made me feel your pain, and hers as well.

poemblaze said...

The poem is excellent! I don't think you need the last line, because you've showed the control freak nature of Mary and don't need to underline it. It stands on its own. Great descriptions, both physical and emotional.

hedgewitch said...

I love your short stuff, MZ, as you know, but the richness of this longer poem is very satisfying. The frustration bleeds off the page--in your character of Mary you've put everything that's wrong with putting self first, showed how it becomes all you have, and you can only relate on your own demanding terms, isolating yourself further. I don't have much sympathy for people who reach this stage of self-focus, throwing responsibility on others, yet refusing to relinquish an iota of control. Just an excellent poem in all ways, especially the compressed spine--I think I felt a sympathetic twinge.

poemblaze said...

PS: you've also shown the wonderful self control of the speaker in the poem. Another aspect of "control." Well done.

Sylvia K said...

Ah, I'm so glad I'm not/wasn't ever a care giver and I just bet any possible patients I might have had are even more glad! Jeez!!!!!

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

What a great write--full of the poet and full of Mary--the way in which you show her need to control her uncontrollable life is superb.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

As my Pop would say "Your reward will be in Heaven." I add: this gets you a front row seat in Heaven.

You stated this perfectly - love you(r words especially),
Mosk

Zouxzoux said...

I could write a page about how this made me feel but, instead, I'll just say it struck a familiar cord. I learned a long time ago that the caregiver has to assert ultimate control for the safety of the patient and herself. It's hard but it can be done.
Bless your heart.

Fireblossom said...

I love "Jesus wept/ and now you know why". But the ending illuminates the whole twisted dance, if it can even be called that. Wow.

Heaven said...

This piece resonated with me as I had to briefly take care of my ailing mom. But control or compassionate care is the only thing that is important to them. If she was my patient, I wouldn't really care but if that was a family member, its a different picture. Great piece MZ ~

Fred Rutherford said...

Control really is a funny thing. Although I've never taken care of someone like this, my sister was, I guess still is, a nurse at a nursing home and some of the stories she would tell popped up while reading this. Must be difficult, for all the reasons cited here. Love the tone here, different from much of your other work-very nice diversity on display. Thanks

Anne Katherine said...

This is so well done - word-wise and feeling-wise! Great job!

marousia said...

Wow - stunning! A study into how not to grow old

Lolamouse said...

This reminds me so much of one of my previous Meals on Wheels clients who we tried to keep in her home for as long as possible. She once had me change the sheets on her bed-what a nightmare! From trying to find the correct ones to putting everything "just so." Your poem brought tears to my eyes, both from laughter and from remembering the frustration.

Arron Shilling said...

characterful and emotional capture;
so well written - like i just sat and watched the whole god damn thing... brilliant mama :)

zongrik said...

wow!! how do you do it?

and then you write about it, like it's cooking soup

messy little girl

poetcolette said...

A very difficult thing to write about, let alone maneuver. Good handling!

Mark Windham said...

Just excellent

Kamana said...

good storytelling!

Susie Clevenger said...

This is great..It appears Mary could bring Jesus to tears...lol

Brendan said...

A fine, deeper-penetrating poem MZ, unscrolling a tale long enough to accommodate all the complications of girth and duty, dignity and despair -- and the tiny bit of control, of humanity, left when all the floodgates have opened. The drama between home healthcare worker and this massive charge is writ with great balance and dynamic -- no one wins here. Not sure the last line quite nails it, you might not even need it. - Brendan

Dave King said...

This is brilliantly accomplished - which it obviously wasn't for you. Transmuted experience, maybe? Hope you enjoyed the writing as much as I the reading!

Steve King said...

Control, and the lack of it. You've memorialized both ends of the continuum here. Many fine lines (...iridium black rage...). Unfortunately, as we--and ours--begin to age out, more and more of us will be learning this lesson about control. Not only is this good writing, it's an educational piece. Very nice job.

manicddaily said...

The Jesus Wept line very good--and very vivid.

I don't know though--I mean I well understand the frustration--but sometimes people also seem to really have OCD. Not that they shouldn't try to control it, but it seems to be a trait that becomes dominant in many, and about these crazy things that become genuinely disturbing--little differences, objects not in the pre-arranged lines. k.

Robert Gibson said...

"Jesus wept,
and now you know why."

Damn... this story is ... wow. Damn...

Well written...

kaykuala said...

MZ.
Those who are sick tend to make their crying and whining their secret weapon. Thanks for sharing!

Hank

Blue Flute said...

Yes, "Jesus wept, / and now you know why." is the one that really jumped out at me and actually all the short refrains served as a good punctuation to the longer discussion parts.

Teresa said...

This is so true. It's hard to lose control and independence of your life. It just might be harder to be the only thing that's left for her to control. Wonderfully written.

Carol Steel 5050 said...

Sounds like her life was a mess already and her control of you was the only bit of control she had left. You've captured the angst of that very well, both from her side and from yours.

Uneven Stephen said...

Wow, this is quite a poetic story. I'm impressed by the form and all the unique words you use.

poemsofhateandhope said...

What a tough subject you chose- we are all have people to care for - some do a good job- some don't - but what you spin here is actually a very touching tale- warts and all- and such heartfelt observation only serves to heighten the care and love that actually might exist between the two characters- some fantastic descriptions here also- the mountain if Andorra sweaters- loved that- great write

Beachanny said...

Every work of yours grows in depth and complexity. This topic a considerable challenge and yet you met it with the right arrangement and construction, grueling, tightening our muscles as we read and feeling the ache of the imposition. Fabulous write!

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Phew, great description! but who's controlling who?

darkangelwrites said...

I bow to anyone who can caregive to non-family. This poem lets us all feel it.

ds said...

Wonderful. I love "Jesus wept/and now you know why" the "spine compressed to gneiss" (that says it all), and the frustrations shown on both sides. It is not easy to provide that level of care and maintain equilibrium. Thank you for showing that.