6 Years

This Wednesday marks 6 years since my mom died.  For the last couple years, I’ve made a comic in order to recognize the day.  This time, a comic didn’t come out.  Instead, what emerged is a poem.  It’s an ekphrastic poem, though, so I’d like to think it in some way is tapping into the medium of comics.  What I’ve noted, too, is that this poem is in a much different place than the previous two comics have been.  The nightmares that usually spring up for me this time of year have been few and far between—or maybe they just don’t impact me the same way anymore?  I’m not sure.  I do miss her—but the pain has faded quite a bit.

Here is my poem:

The Animals

Hanging on the wall

of the hallway

that led to the waiting room

of the treatment center

at the City of Hope

was a painting filled with wild animals.


That waiting room

scared you

made you nervous

made you nauseous.


Those others waiting

weren’t like you—

you said.


So you waited there

in the hallway

facing that painting

til the door opened and a voice said your name

(the nurses knew where to find you).


And over the weeks and months that you waited

you memorized the placements and gestures

of each of those animals—

leopard sitting, monkey scratching, toucan perching, rhino bored.


All those wild animals unnaturally piled together eased you

and from their strange, colorful, cacophonous world

they waited with you

in artificial calm.