Patti Tana


Another one wants to die.
How little I can do to stop the downward slide.
Your only connection's with dogs? Then tether yourself
to them. Volunteer at the shelter.
Get out of the cell of yourself.
I'm full of suggestions, but
when I hang up the phone and rush to work
the faces in the hallway mirror my fear -
we who are trying to keep someone we love alive.

Eyes darting or shut tight, lips knotted,
we huddle in a corner cradling a phone
in a palm clamped to the ear.
Everywhere I look I see this face,
like when I was pregnant and the whole world was
pregnant. Bellies bulged wherever I looked.
Selective perception, I know -
when you buy a car or hear a new word
suddenly you notice that new thing everywhere.

But see, that's it, I implore the sad ones,
the damaged, angry, frightened, downed out,
disappointed, hopeless ones -
the world is full of everything
all the time. The air is rich with frequencies
and our mind a receiver that can
pick up different signals if we turn the dial.
Ariel heard song on the enchanted isle and
you can too.

And after the pleas, the rage - How dare you
toss away your gift, your spark in the eternal light.
Open your eyes!
Wake up to your life!
Grab hold, dear one, tether yourself to life.

Patti Tana is Professor of English and Coordinator of the Creative Writing Project at Nassau Communiy COllege (SUNY). She is also the Associate Editor of Long Island Quarterly, and author of How Odd This Ritual of Harmony (1981), Ask the Dreamer Where Night Begins (1986), The River (1990), Wetlands (1993), and When the Light Falls Short of the Dream (1998). "Someone We Love" will be part of her collection of new and selected work: Make Your Way Across This Bridge.


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