SPEAKING WITHOUT LANGUAGE
by Jan Little
Speaking Without Language
Nurses, family friends and we all grapple
With an articulate mother suddenly unable
To speak to us now.
Charades and questions become new mode of talking:
Where the word “medicine” and hand’s pointing to head
Means “shampoo,” and we slowly adjust.
My now half-brained mother’s world has shrunk
From Octobering in England’s Cotswolds
To riding for an hour around her home in Kentucky.
The world dims when such Energizer bunnies wind down
And a stroke applies brakes slowly but one-sidedly to a life
Till my father joins her as he becomes my half-dad—
Right side also now frozen.
“You Are My Sunshine” signals last song together
As his speech also slowly strokes out.
But two aphasians need few words to say—
Looks, handholds suffice along with three phrases:
“I love you,” “all right,” and “home.”
Two right brains can make a whole love until death
And their ashes commingle beneath Mary’s statue.
Could a Lover Love My Muse?
My muse mocks my left-brained world
With its trudging logical meeting
Daily objectives on chalkboards.
At moments between classes, she sneaks out,
Makes humorous analogies I share to amuse peers.
Connecting previous day’s dots, she nightly roams
Between my two spheres and tidies up, even draws
Mandelas at times from kaleidoscopes of fractured images
My eyes recorded from conversations, walks, books.
Daily the alarm and coffee close her back up
Into her half-courtlike gym
Away from daily breadwinning left-brained chores.
–But still she peeks at odd moments through blinds to give me
Post-it note insights, word twists she has jotted at night
To slip to me when timing’s right. She laughs through my eyes
When she’s scored a strike or an ace with her witty repast,
Or scratches her head, returns to notepad when she fails to score.
Weekly trips to coffee houses, church services,
She speaks to me through ink in composition notebooks,
On church bulletins I spend summers sifting through
For gems hidden among chaff of random words and thoughts.
Never do I allude to her in conversations,
Especially with left brains, who might laugh
As we English majors did at stories of writers’ odd antics
Of them as adults climbing trees along streets or
Misdelivering mail or composing on walls.
If only imagination could be like toothpaste
That writers could spread in controlled amounts.
Instead, I make multiple trips up and down stairs
Trying to remember errands and chores because
A plot twist in my novel has distracted me.
Or I look at a pair of scissors in one hand and wonder
What I was going to do with them because my muse
Interrupted with suggestions for another poem.
How could I explain such a creature as she to a lover?
Would he suggest analysis, sneak looks in my journals
To see her opinion of him?
Would he leave me time with her or feel threatened–
Or worse amused at me and her?
Or perhaps worse would be a right-brained lover
With more mature, published muse who then would slight mine–
Better a leftie lover then than right.
Since should she leave me now after years
Of becoming whole with her,
I would feel holed and halved–without her nightly
Knitting “up my ragged sleeves of care”
And these odd poems I never knew were in me.
Souls Stained Glass
When loving Death hovers over beds to call soul seeds,
They waft up from earthly husks to follow
His gentle breeze to leave this plane for another.
They bobble like lightening bugs just above tree tops,
Then dip respectfully inside doors of worship.
Sometimes people in pews feel light brushes
That somehow lighten loads of loss and woe
As souls take part of the heaviest griefs and pains
With them through stained glass portals.
Different hues have deepened from centuries
Of souls passing through panes to leave last taints
Of green’s greed, orange’s lust, yellow’s arrogance,
To emerge clear to pass into the final home for all,
While worshippers on this earthly plane
Send prayers of need and thanks to One
Who waits beside them veiled in Spirit.
About the Author:
A retired journalist/English instructor, I write poetry, short stories and a fantasy novel series. First published in Adelaide Literary Journal, I have also been honorably mentioned by First Millennium Writing and Beyond Borders, International, for poems. In addition, I am a finalist in Florida Writers’ Association’s Royal Palms Literary Awards for short stories. I live in Orlando, and my hobbies are Tai Chi, swimming, and movies with friends.