Kathilynn Lehmer

Kathilynn Lehmer is an educator, writer, artist, and poet who has lived on the Coast for over forty years.  Her daughter, her family and friends, her sanctuary—the ocean and the redwoods—are her inspiration for her art and writing.  

Poem

The silent scream appeared the day you told me,
but I stilled it 
to live our moments.

It has been with me since,
fighting to replace my heart,
trapped by my fear
that it will become me,
growing, darkening, hardening.

Its boundaries are the things 
I can do nothing about.
It echoes with horror,
      despair,
      rage.

I heard it when you cried
going into the hospital.
when I cleaned you for the first time 
in the shower, your tears merging
with mine and the excrement running down 
the drain.

I heard it when you lay
In ICU,
    burning and shivering,
when they told me there were more decisions 
   to be made
   than ventilator and code blue.

I heard it when I moved with you from floor to floor
   in what became Dante’s Inferno.
I heard it as I held your hand
not knowing whether to give
you strength
to live or die.

I heard it when you held your head
because you couldn’t think.
I heard it when you wanted to drive, but couldn’t walk.
I heard it when you reached beyond your pain and
 held me, letting me know you were there,
   loving me,
   letting me cry.

I heard it as your tears fell all day.
I heard it as we journeyed one last time 
   to the garden,
     to the ocean,
       to our woods.

I heard it as you cried out for me
   in the darkness.
I heard it as your hands turned cold and you took your last breath.

I hear it now as the memories of our life
    flood in.
I hear it now as I try to live 
   without you.
I hear it 
  As well intended people say
      “He’s in a better place.”
I hear it as well intended people say
   “Well you survived.
    You’re looking well
    You’re doing well.”

I am
Life goes on
   without you.
I hear it as I look at your pictures
and feel a familiar pang of love.
I catch my breath
and know I will never see your face again.
I want to cry out to the gods, to life.
I go on.

Some days
I want to live,
to love,
to experience life
for me,
for you.

I hear it now
inside of me,
as I go through the motions of living
in this process called
Grief
that will lead me to acceptance.

I hear it.

You lost so much.
I lost so much.
You didn’t want to die.
I’m here and you are not.
I cry.

I saw its form today:
A shrouded form reaching out,
a black hole where the heart
or is it a mouth
should be.

Perhaps now
I can release it.

Copyright © 2020 by Kathilynn Lehmer. Used with permission of the author.