A Prayer for All Who Work in Hospice

May the passion you have for life fire the compassion you have for others.

May you know that when you do small things with great love you change lives.

May the blessings you receive mean more than the hours you work.

May you remember to keep both feet on the ground while tending to those who have one foot in heaven.

May you be grateful that your encounter with death and dying brings you a deeper appreciation of life and living.

May you never lose sight of the fact that it’s not the length but the depth of life that really matters.

May your work be grounded in the knowledge that grief is the emotional, physical and spiritual price you pay for the priceless gift of love, and that the only cure for grief is grieving.

May you know that while no one may build a monument in your name, the way you make your mark in this life is by erasing the frown on someone’s brow.

And, may you start each day remembering the last words spoken by Steve Jobs before he died:  “Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!”

Amen.

– Elizabeth Kaeton

Nursery

We opened the door to the fairy house
& took our tea on matching pebble seats.
Somehow we got out of there alive

though something crystalline of us
remains in that dark, growing its facets.
We opened the door to the fairy house

at the oak’s black ankle. You asked
What could happen? as you disappeared
somehow. We got out of there alive

the strange tea still warm in our bellies.
Inside, our hosts gave damn few answers.
Who built that door? Is this a fairy house?

They had no faces yet. We spoke
into their quince-bud ears. You wept.
Somehow we got out of there alive

though we didn’t quite return. Our life
is different now we’ve drunk the tea.
They’re alive somehow. I got us out.
Why did you open the door to the fairy house?

– Kiki Petrosino

One Body

ID

Two ids walk into one body & fight over whether to break melon on the kitchen counter & eat it by the fistful or to throw the melon out a shut window & watch it break on the pavement, stabbed by shards of glass.

EGO

Sorry, for yelling through the speaker at the McDonald’s drive thru. Sorry, for not letting you through the door first. Sorry, I ate the dozen donuts in fifteen minutes over the sink. Sorry, I sound shrill, sound dumb, sound ditzy, sound spacey. Sorry, mom. I mean, mamá. 
I mean, miss. I mean, nevermind.

SUPEREGO

Dear body: Cut the melon into slices with the sharpest knife you can find & enjoy the pain you are causing this melon. Stop saying you’re sorry, instead feel guilty for being shrill, being dumb, being ditzy, 
being spacey. Feel guilty because your mom is your mamá is your miss is the one who is guilty for giving you this body with two ids, 
& one ego, & one superego who hush-hushes you whole.

– Natalie Scenters-Zapico

He Has an Oral Fixation

He can’t stop putting the dead
flowers, the deadhead nails, the deadweight
sacks of flour in his mouth. He can’t
stop writing about the mouth. The way

he woke up to his mouth full of bees,
their dead crunch still stinging
his gums. He writes: There’s something
beautiful in the way a mouth can be broken

by saliva and cold air. She broke
his mouth open and filled it with lead-
tainted earth. She made him
brain-dead through the mouth;

licked the honey she pulled
from his incisors like sap from a tree.
His mouth, with its stretch marks
running along his cheeks — she’s never seen

anything like it. His mouth a scar
of his hunger, a scar of his gluttony
after the hunger. Stop writing
about the mouth: the teeth, the gums,

the impacted tooth and its psychedelic
blues and greens. Stop writing how she bit
your mouth and with a blowtorch
welded its dark-open shut. Stop writing

about the mouth: the tongue, the holy
molars, the wear of grinding yourself
to bone. Stop writing about the mouth:
his mouth, your mouth, her mouth.

– Natalie Scenters-Zapico
favorite

The Wedding Planners

We need a preacher who’ll say up in here instead of herein.
Our vows should reference calla lilies and the snowy pistils they
jab ardently at our faces. Let’s place their linty, foul-mouthed kiss
at the center of satin table cloths white as bee boxes and
us buzzing like the ichthyic insects we’ll invent: “coddle-
fish” finning the air, murmuring for words beyond civil and
ceremony, beyond moderation, all our senses under assault.

from “The Real Thing”

It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing. Every object that meets the eye, a pencil, a tangerine, a travel poster. As if the physical world has been wired up to pass a current back to the part of your brain where imagination glows like a filament in a lobe no bigger than a torch bulb. Pain.

– Tom Stoppard
This. The undealt card. Mask slipped. Knowing and being known. Carnal knowledge. Never lose that card if you find someone who will give it to you. Dare to be generous. Find the permanent value in the one you love (because you truly know her) and hand out your reserved (without reservation) card graciously (without ego).