In Memory of Robin Williams
When deep in real grief,
I seek healing laughter, pray
for the salve of humor to restore
my fractured perspective, return me
to joy, ease aching toward stability.
When the brilliant comic actor dimmed
in my existing darkness, the next
easy smile locked in downturned lips
as I struggled to understand his tragic finale.
But did I really struggle for him?
I needed my comedic hero
always funny, always on, as though
he existed to light my unique darkness,
and--fuck him!—when he became real.
Dead is too real.
I want to own my connection to his genius,
while feigning distance to his deepest failings.
Reality is, his admirers knew more than we admit,
enough to have offered support. So why didn’t we?
While we were all watching, who really saw him?
Why wasn’t his family’s love enough
to keep him alive, if fan adoration couldn’t?
Our society praises—no, worships—celebrity,
as long as the human side stays hidden.
We care? We grieve?
Ha! Such hypocrisy.
How many of us wish our own misery
garners a fraction of his suicide’s attention.
At the end of the misunderstood day,
we want to make it all about us:
Look at me, help me, save me…
In her infinite wisdom Mom would say
Don’t go upstairs empty-handed. There was always
something to lug up the spiral staircase from ground
floor to second: clean clothes, towels or bed linens,
stashed in a noisy, crinkly plastic grocery bag with
loops she tied for easy carrying. Or it was a roll of
toilet paper, bar of soap, tube of toothpaste, box
of Kleenex, or brother-owned objects Mom tired
of tripping over. The living room and kitchen floors
are not dumping grounds, she’d say. I used to think
she should make the trip herself, exercise would
do her good. I didn’t know then she used her meager
rations of energy to get through the day. Laundry’s
slow pace—sorting, washing, drying and folding just
a load—was Mom’s workout. Climbing stairs became
physical therapy, a feat to report in a letter.
I did 12 steps today, she’d write, illegibly--
a sentence you’d rather not read twice, knowing
it wasn’t the program for recovery.
My Mother’s Last Portrait
The hazel-eyed beauty
has eyes newly blue-gray,
their color repainted by
the same stroke that holds
her left side captive, robs
her ability to swallow. She
squeezes my hand tighter
as a single tear clings to
her still-lovely long lashes.
Mom looks at me, struggles
to focus on her first-born.
She strains a slurred
Leslie M. Rupracht is an editor, poet, writer, and visual artist with work in print and online journals (most recently, Gargoyle and As It Ought To Be), anthologies, art exhibits, and a poetry chapbook, Splintered Memories (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2012). Longtime senior associate editor of now-retired Iodine Poetry Journal, Leslie also edited for moonShine review, and was twice editor/designer of North Carolina Poetry Society’s Pinesong. She hosts the monthly reading series, Waterbean Poetry Night at the Mic, which she co-founded in 2015. A 2020 Best of the Net nominee, Leslie is originally from New York, and has called the Charlotte, NC region home since 1997. She and her husband live with their rescued pit bull. IG: @hawkpoetic
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