Writer’s Note: In this poem, I imagine my future dying process, hopefully “years from now,” surrounded by quiet, love, nature, and music. The scene is borrowed from a real place, Commonweal Retreat Center in Bolinas, California, where many have found solace and healing. The poem has since been included in my chapbook “A Doctor Only Pretends: Poems about illness, death, and in-between” and reviewed by poet Matthew Lippman in Tikkun Magazine
Years from Now
Near the outskirts of Bolinas, a woman offers me
a small pot of coral impatiens and leads me
into a large retreat house, where I choose a room
that faces cypress trees facing the ocean,
and I curl up in the pillowed quiet.
When she shows me the path to the driftwood
chapel, I find an altar of feathers, bones, shells,
a tall vase of fresh wildflowers, river stones etched
with names warming by the window. In my singsong
heart a campfire lights, where I toast marshmallows,
belt out I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly,
and where a woman waits beside me
with a pot of coral impatiens. When I tire, she leads me
back to the house and the room facing the cypress trees
and ocean, its pillowy quiet. Later, I dance the path
to the driftwood chapel, its altar of bones, shells,
vase of fresh wildflowers, and warm stone
with my name on it.
Abby Caplin is the author of the chapbook A Doctor Only Pretends: poems about illness, death, and in-between (2022). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Catamaran, The MacGuffin, Midwest Quarterly, The Southampton Review, Tikkun, among other journals. She has been a finalist for the Rash Award in Poetry and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award, a semi-finalist for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award, and a nominee for Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. Abby is a physician in San Francisco, California.
Delmarva Review publishes compelling new poetry and prose selected annually from thousands of submissions regionally and nationally. Financial support for the nonprofit literary journal comes from tax-deductible contributions, sales, and a grant from the Talbot Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.