Poetry by Mary McIntosh
I launder the sheets today
after weeks of your absence,
uninvited. They smell of
body and grit, of sweat and
determination to win
a struggle between mind and
heart, soul and illness.
Ruffled white sheets,
wrinkled by your tossings,
sadden and remind me of
endings grim with trauma,
face smashed in mirror, your
blood on cheerful yellow walls
painted to please me.
When the laundry’s done,
it will be over, one more time,
and I will take up my mother’s
work and determine not to cry,
realize, hauntingly, that this bed,
not yours, was not your rest, this
home, not yours, a place of torment.
Now this room echoes with your pain,
with the joy of your quick laughter,
the quick twist of your harsh words
in my heart, the regret of your lost
dreams, your best resolves, your old
love notes written in earnest upon
white wrinkled tearings of paper.
In the night my heart stabs with
my own regret. Remembering
times past, I wander this home,
ghost of a mother, and wonder
where my own home is. I pass the
bed in the room that is not yours,
wonder if you are resting—if you can.
Mary McIntosh holds the Ph.D. degree in English from Suny/Buffalo and has taught at several colleges in the East and Northwest. A poet and freelance editor, she has published poems in small literary magazines, including VoiceCatcher, and essays in Oregon Humanities magazine and Spectrum. She occasionally teaches creative writing workshops in the Portland-Vancouver area.