Poems on Loss & Healing
by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

I imagine you, Grandmother,
as I sit by my friend’s pale form,
both gone so young, leaving hearts ripped
and shredded in the tiny bodies
trailing in your unwilling wake.
Her head on the pillow might be yours:
hair smoothed back from the high forehead,
features serene against framework of clear
beautiful bone, skin white, waxen,
unsullied by paint.
Soft folds creamy around neck and shoulder,
black velvet drapes to the floor.
Her sister places a circlet of white anemones
on her brow, I lay a late red rose
from her garden on her breast.
She looks like a medieval young queen.
I bow my head over internal words,
send a separate message flying
that your babies grew and prospered,
in their eighties, still spoke of you.

by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Washed by a flood so red
and hot I think I’ll dissolve
I stand by the mailbox
on a country road.
Tears leave salt tracks
down my cheeks. I tilt my head
back, try to clear my eyes,
stare past the clouds
into what drifts behind. Mail
scatters in the gravel at my feet.

Strange that a simple envelope, cheap
white paper bulging with come-ons,
can open such wounds.

Your name in cheery computer-speak
flashes me straight to our first kitchen:
you with hands wrapped around your mug
laughing over the coffee steam, you
with endless patience teaching our two
little boys about tractors, you
and those talented hands stroking
the day’s work from my rousing skin.

I want to shriek at some nameless company,
enraged at the pain they’ve caused.
Your name still on a mailing list
sold over and over and over,
yet I buried you
thirty-eight years ago.

by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

In the black clothes usually reserved
for serious parties, they filed into the church
for their classmate’s funeral.
Blinked in the avalanche of camera flash,
taped questions, whir of fancy equipment.
Bowed their heads, some stunned
into silence, others wailing.
In the middle of the next week
they held their own memorial,
did not invite the grownups, the press.
Gathered in their skinny skirts,
baggy pants, cool sweatshirts
in the center of the football field
after school. The class clown
made a few jokes, class president
got solemn then, at her signal,
each hand released its grasp.
Into the orange-rose streaks
of the wild setting sun, hundreds
of gold balloons soared, each
with a slip of paper tucked inside --
a line of love, a short prayer, a single wish
for their slain friend.

Author Biography
Patricia Wellingham-Jones, former psychology researcher/writer/editor, has been published in journals, newspapers, anthologies, and online. She has won numerous awards and been the featured poet in several journals. Her most recent books are Don’t Turn Away: Poems About Breast Cancer, Labyrinth: Poems & Prose, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Bags, and Lummox Press Little Red Book series, A Gathering Glance. She lives in northern California.

PWJ Publishing

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