Mother's Hands Drawing Me Poem by Jorie Graham

Mother's Hands Drawing Me

Dying only mother's hands continue
undying, blading into air,
impersonal, forced, curving it
down — drought incessant rain
revolution and the organs shutting
down but not these extremities,
here since I first opened my first
eyes first day and there they were,
delicate, pointing, will not back off,
cannot be remembered. Mother,
dying — mother not wanting to
die — mother scared awakening
each night thinking she's dead —
crying out — mother not
remembering who I am as I run
in — who am I — mother we must
take away the phone because who
will you call next — now saying I
dreamt I have to get this dress on, if
I get this dress on I will not die —
mother who cannot get the dress on
because of broken hip and broken
arm and tubes and coils and pan
and everywhere pain, wandering
delirium, in the fetid shadow-
world — geotrauma — trans-
natural — what is this message
you have been scribbling all your
life to me, what is this you drag
again today into non-being. Draw it.
The me who is not here. Who is the
ghost in this room. What am I that
is now drawn. Where are we
heading. Into what do you throw
me with your quick eye — up onto
me then down onto the blank of the
page. You rip the face
off. I see my elbow there where
now you bend it with the pen, you
fill it in, you slough it off me onto
more just-now making of more
future. You look back up, you take
my strangeness from me, you
machine me, you hatch me in. To
make what, mother, here in this
eternity this second this million
years where I watch as each thing is
seen and cancelled-out and re-
produced — multiplying aspects of
light in the morning air — the
fingers dipping frantic into the bag
of pens, pencils, then here they
are — the images — and the hands
move — they are making a
line now, it is our world,
it horizons, we ghost, we sleepwalk,
everything around us is leveled,
canceled, we background, we
are barely remains, we remain, but
for what, the fingers are deepening
curling, bringing it round, the mind
does not — I don't think — know this
but the fingers, oh, for all my life
scribbling open the unseen,
done with mere things, not
interested in appraisal, just
seizure — what is meant by
seizure — all energy, business-
serious, about direction, tracing
things that dissolve from thingness
into in-betweens — here firm lines,
here powdery lift off — hunger,
fear — the study begins — all is not
lost — the thought a few seconds
wide — the perusal having gone
from here to here, aggregates,
thicket, this spot could be where
we came in, or where we are saved,
could be a mistake, looks across
room through me, me not here
then, me trying to rise in the beam,
nothing I do will make it
happen, rock-face, work that
excludes everything that is not
itself, all urge in the process of
becoming all effect, how can I touch
that hand like snow moving, when
is it time again as here there is no
time, or time has been loaded but
not cocked, so is held in reserve, all
wound up, I was also made but not
like this, I look for reluctance,
expectation, but those are not the
temperatures — if only I could be in
the scene — my time is not
passing — whose is the time that is
passing — the hands rushing across
the paper, cloudy with a sun
outside also rushing scribbling —
wisdom turning itself away from
wisdom to be — what — a thing that
would gold-up but cannot, a patch
of blue outside suddenly like the
cessation of language when lips
cease to move — sun — self-
pronouncing — I want this to not be
my writing of it, want my hands not
to be here also, mingling with hers
who will not take my hand ever into
hers, no matter how late we are, no
matter that we have to run so fast
through all these people and I need
the hand, somewhere a radiant
clearing, are we heading for it, head
down towards the wide page, hand
full of high feeling, cannot tell if it
takes or gives, cannot tell what it is
that is generating the line, it comes
from the long fingers but is not
them, all is being spent, the feeling
that all — all that we need or have —
would be spent for this next thing
this capture, actually loud though
all you can hear is the small
scratching, and I feel dusk
approaching though it is still early
afternoon, just slipping,
no one here to see this but me, told
loud in silence by arcs, contours,
swell of wind, billowing, fluent —
ink chalk charcoal — sweeps, spirals,
the river that goes
nowhere, that has survived the
astonishments and will never
venture close to that heat again, is
cool here, looking up at what,
looking back down, how is it
possible the world still exists, as it
begins to take form there, in the not
being, there is once then there is the
big vocabulary, loosed, like
a jay's song thrown down when the
bird goes away, cold mornings,
hauling dawn away with it, leaving
grackle and crow in sun — they have
known what to find in the unmade
undrawn unseen unmarked and
dragged it into here — that it be

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

New York City, New York
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