Treasure Island

Leonard Kress


The Seven Signs


for JSK (1919-1998)


She already exhibits four of the seven signs
of imminent death, my sister reads the Xerox sheet
the social worker sent. Too late—the kids
lunge for the almost fumbled phone, pile on top
of the baby. The oldest uses the cord for double
Dutch, my shushes and shutups provide the chants.

I try to convince my sister that there is no chance
of reversal, that the deep and glorious sign-
off her friends encourage her to expect will only double
the letting go. My mother's white as a sheet,
barely eats, but throws her legs over the top
of the bedrail at night, dangling them like a kid.

And when denial strikes, we both know I'm kidding
when I bring up my father's blind belief in chance
over necessity, what almost took him to the top
of science, the atomic blast he could have designed
but didn't. Now he tears her soiled sheets
and measures detergent in calibrated beakers, double

strength to stanch the stench of death. Double
her pain meds, the hospice says, no kidding
around, this stuff you see oozing on the sheet
is her flesh melting off her bones, and the deep chants
abrading like a Russian hymn are her rendition (sign
six) of her dead answering her call, flopping on top

and shaking what's left inside loose, leaving the top
free to glare at us who stay, redoubling
our efforts. What strange and eerie kind of sign
was it when we talked on the phone? Even the kids
grew quit, the baby gnawed the nipple, my last chance
to hear her voice—before the winding sheet

gets wound, its starch crackling and crazing like sheet-
rock in the early stages of demolition, about to top-
ple under the Renovator's blows. No chance
it will be left standing in the end. Doubly
strange for us offspring—parents retracting into kids,
meeting ours along the way, flashing signs.

Submitted: Sunday, June 29, 2014

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Topic(s): sestina

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Seven Signs by Leonard Kress )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. What you feel, gajanan mishra
  2. The last indulgence, Piyush Dey
  3. what you do, gajanan mishra
  4. And get everything, gajanan mishra
  5. The Workforce, James Tate
  6. To Join You, Edward Kofi Louis
  7. The real wasteland, Peter Hall
  8. Known In This Town, Edward Kofi Louis
  9. The Veil, Peter Hall
  10. You Made Me A Fool, Edward Kofi Louis

Poem of the Day

poet Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Ernest G Moll

 

Member Poem

[Hata Bildir]