Visiting the Hospice by Andrea Potos

Visiting the Hospice

Call it heaven already–
air of ochre light, art on the walls–
a mosaiced Balinese dancer, a cathedral of orchids.
I glimpse siderooms filled with books,
leather sofas to sink inside, windows
with green views of paths winding
somewhere I cannot see.
Along the spacious hallways,
no one hurries.
Each person who greets me
carries a stillness I long to keep.
My friend sleeps most of the day now;
at the door of his room, I pause,
knowing the safety of his passage.

*

Andrea Potos is author of several poetry collections, most recently Mothershell (Kelsay Books), A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). Another collection is forthcoming in summer of 2021 entitled Marrow of Summer. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry, and several Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. “Visiting the Hospice” is included in Potos’ collection Marrow of Summer forthcoming in June 2021 from Kelsay Books.

Three Poems by Andrea Potos

TRYING TO TEACH MY MOTHER TO CROCHET

I wanted something for her hands–
the dusky blue crochet hook I bought for her
and blue acrylic yarn the color
of the Greek sea near the long ago
city of her birth.

She didn’t ask for this lesson.
In her steady kindness, she went along
with me, trying to match her fingers
to the flow of looping yarn.
I worried she wouldn’t continue
when her mind told her
she needed another cigarette,

though the cancer had already set in both lungs
and her treatment begun. I never considered
how she might want to live her last months or years
doing what gave her balm, the familiar comfort
to inhale, taste and release a swirling elegance
of smoke. All I knew was my own need
to halt what had already begun, to keep her
present and seamlessly shawled around us.

*

WIG SHOPPING WITH MOM

Though after five months of chemo, her hair
was only thinned a little,
she had a free wig coming,
the nurse said. We visited the room
of floor-to-ceiling shelves: mannequin
heads, and baskets of scarves and wraps.
Mom settled in; we giggled, comparing
thoughts as she smiled for my cellphone camera:
dark auburn with short curls, layered
brunette waves, medium shaggy, sideways parts;
one wig with streaks of silver like surprise hints of lightning.
In no rush to agree on the one and decide,
we wanted to stay in that brief clearing
of complimentary joy. We never even considered
choosing anything other than hope.

*

CREATING

I think of my Yaya, all those hours
at her Singer sewing machine,
or sitting with her skeins of yarn,
or the thimble on her finger as she
basted and lined
the pleats of the drapes,
the hems of the dresses and skirts and coats,
as she embroidered the doilies and linens,
the pillowcases and sheets.

All I have are my pens, scatterings
of dark blue or black, sometimes purple
or green, depending on the mood,
hoping my hand aligns somehow with hers as
I make small stitches of words across paper
that, sometimes, feels like rough cotton,
sometimes like silk.

*

“Wig Shopping with Mom” and “Creating” are included in Potos’ collection Marrow of Summer forthcoming in Summer 2021.

*

Andrea Potos is author of several poetry collections, most recently Mothershell (Kelsay Books), A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). Another collection is forthcoming in summer of 2021 entitled Marrow of Summer. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry, and several Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. Both “Wig Shopping with Mom” and “Creating” are included in Potos’ collection Marrow of Summer forthcoming in Summer 2021.

Sleep Skills by Andrea Potos

Sleep Skills

These days I wake up tired
after hours skimming sleep’s
surface like a hungry bird, waiting.
They say it’s a fact of growing older,
to lose the skill for sleep infants
and teenagers mindlessly have.

I think of my Yaya, when I was a girl,
she was already dressed before first light;
her body telling her it was time
to live the day, tend to her needles and thread,
her yarn; and in her kitchen, the flour and water
in their porcelain bowls; a woman waiting for the morning
to rise under her hands.

*

Andrea Potos is author of several poetry collections, most recently Mothershell (Kelsay Books), A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). Another collection is forthcoming in summer of 2021 entitled Marrow of Summer. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry, and several Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online.