Category Archives: poetry

In A Rita Perfect World

As uncomplicated as silent companionship

when we listen

to simple playful magic

and the air…

When we listen

to a whale’s blow hole

and the air escaping…

reminding me of

a whale’s blow hole.

Bumped and scuttled between boats

and reminding me of swimming

between fishing lines.

Bumped and scuttled between boats,

submerged in the Saint Lawrence Seaway

between fishing lines,

the world sounds garbled.

Submerged in the Saint Lawrence Seaway,

when we take care of each other,

the world sounds garbled

until something new wants to be born.

When we take care of each other

and remember to play;

something new wants to be born

and laughter becomes the shower for the soul.

Remember to play,

when there are no more right whale deaths,

and laughter becomes the shower for the soul.

In a Rita Perfect World

when there are no more right whale deaths.

NASA will build me a wheelchair

as uncomplicated as silent companionship.

Too Tired

I have been too tired to write.

There have been bladder infections and antibiotics

that made me too tired to write.

Lots of water, cranberry juice and I stopped drinking coffee.

I have been too tired to write…

Too many trips to the bathroom

made me too tired to write.

How to explain…

when getting up in the morning is opening your eyes to realize

that getting out of bed is more like a grand haul.

So, I have been too tired to write.

A trip to the bathroom is more like an expedition

and the shower? Having a shower…

becomes the event of the day.

I have been too tired to write.

Now, let me admit

that I have been too distracted to write.

When simple tasks become arduous, sitting in my wheelchair and catching an episode of my favourite show is fun I deserve.

Have you caught podcasts? There are so many out there. They are much fun to listen to and I can play them all the time. Having other people’s words fill my head distracts me from the arduous peculiarities of life.

And, when I have energy for something, I choose to work on the podcast that I like to call ‘a little spiritual hour’ on the Internet. From The Healing and Cancer Foundation take a look at one of our podcasts.

I have been too distracted to write. Here’s another one of my distractions.


Allow me to introduce you to my grandmother.

I think of her often these days. I recently saw a picture of myself that immediately brought her to mind. I am sitting in a wheelchair with my knees resting against each other. I am smiling and enjoying the company around me on a very social evening. What made me think of my grandmother? Even when she was in her 90s and used a wheelchair to get around, she was always ready to enjoy herself. With her pretty, high cheekbones and mischievous eyes, she was patient and clever. She taught me a lot. How to cook a good spaghetti sauce. How to be grateful for the small things in life. How to appreciate poetry.

I knew her for a long time, from the time I was born until she passed away when I was in my 30s. At different stages in my life, I got to know different sides of her. A charming, mischievous and open-minded artist, she worked very hard. She was unassuming, but expected nothing less than excellence. She loved and forgave. As I watched her age and grow more frail, while I grew stronger, I learned that the physical reality of her presence did not reflect the essence of who she was.

I remember when we were living in Ontario in the 1970s, she and my grandfather were taking English as a second language classes. She showed me an essay she had written for the class. She explained she had to choose a topic from a few the teacher had given. She chose to answer the following: “Is it better to have loved and lost, than never have loved at all?” I was young and remember reading the paragraph, but not quite understanding it. She explained to me that it was better to have loved and lost. I remember looking at her wide-eyed, thinking to myself: “Si Nonna, if you write it, then it must be true.” I think back now of all the stories she told me and realize I had absorbed this: there will be pain, frustration and discomfort in life; joy is mine to find.

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I struggle as…

hope insists
on yoga:
a flacid left leg,                                                                                                                           balancing                                                                                                                                        my torso                                                                                                                                          over an immobile walker.

Hope asserts
a selfish
to push

Hope blooms*
in precise patterns
on the tie
my grandfather wore
in a home for seniors.

Hope calls:
a reminder
to embrace
the future
with dignity.

* this poem has been inspired by the amazing story behind a locally made salad dressing named, Hope Blooms. Check it out:

Photograph taken by Rita of a spiderweb in her backyard (using a 35mm film Olympus camera).

I will float


Yesterday, I took on one of the most challenging tasks for those of us who live with chronic illness. I rested. There’s more to this than meets the eye; I actively engaged in resting. When I walked past my desk, I glared at the disorderly piles of unopened mail and paid one bill online because I knew it was due. I answered a couple of emails, after which I rested. I laid down after breakfast, and again after lunch, and after supper.

The signals to do so had been gathering strength over the last few days. Going to bed tired and waking up tired. Turning the corner from my bed to the bathroom at night, I had to hang onto my walker for fear of losing balance. While scraping the yogurt out of my bowl at breakfast, my left hand felt rubbery. Something was squeezing my upper left arm, I will call it MS. None of these symptoms are acceptable to me. Add to this list: grumpiness. Quietly, in my own head, I found fault with everything. Combined with the tiredness that I could not relieve myself of, I decided after breakfast to call my friend and postpone our luncheon date for a few days.

Actively engaging in rest requires that I shut off my mind and relax. Trusting that rest and even better, sleep will bring back some energy and quiet the symptoms that have been bothering me. This is what I call “an MS day”. A day when I take on resting as something I must “do”.

And so I go to rest. Lie down on top of my bed cover and stretch! Wiggle my toes. Give my lower back a break. Close my eyes and breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Remember those breathing exercises? Breathe in…2…3…4… hold…2…3…4… breathe out 2…3…4… hold 2…3…4… In 2…3…4… hold…2…3…4… out…2…3…4… hold… 2…3… 4… Turn on my side and sigh. The breeze from the window smells fresh and cools my skin. Summer wind… I hear rustling leaves and imagine whitecaps on waves. Will my teenage son and his friends at the Cove be snorkeling with waves cresting? Close your eyes and breathe. Listen… bird song and traffic noise. When will the boys be back from snorkeling? Hear a car squealing to a stop. My car’s brakes need looking after. I’ll call the mechanic tomorrow… Breathe…. Breathe in… 2…3…4… Hold… 2…3…4… Out… 2…3…4… Hold… 2… 3…4… In… 2…3…4… A door opens in the next room… young deep voices mumble… heals stamp the entrance and velcro straps are undone. The boys are back! I wonder, will they hang their wet clothes? But, I’m not getting up. I am resting… breathing…

Stubbornly, I lie on my back and close my eyes. Trying to ignore… Choosing to trust. Some days I can rest. Some days I do shut off my mind. And those days, I float… and breathe… quietly…