Bloomvale Home by Joan Michelson is a new chapbook to be launched on 30 November at Hornsey Library, Haringey Park, London N89JA 5:30 -6:45pm
Joan will be reading and there’s the added bonus of flute performance by Katy Bircher.
Joan’s publications were primarily essays, reviews and fiction before she turned to poetry in 1998. Her chapbook, Letting in the Light, won the Editor’s Prize, Poetic Matrix Publishers, California, 2002. Her first full collection, Toward the Heliopause, was published by Mad Jock Publishers, Liverpool, 2007, and in an updated edition, Poetic Matrix Publishers, USA, 2011. In 2010, the collection appeared in Eng/Rom translation in the online journal of the University of Bucharest’s MTTLC project
Once a week Dr Borrisov flies
Boston-Newark for a day of teaching.
Never mind that she’s eighty-nine.
She loves her work. This is how she lives.
When her life ends, it’s swift. Two nights
she paces the corridors of Bloomvale Home.
She stops at her own door. Farewell to furniture
and she walks on. She sees no future. The surgeon
poopoos her worry. He tells her only last week,
he removed a tumour from a man of ninety-four.
It makes no difference. Rose does not recover.
Her daughter passes on her lumber pillow
to Professor Charles on the floor below.
The professor takes the pillow everywhere
until, like Dr. Borrisov, one day it disappears.
from Bloomvale Home, “Eva Borrisov’ first published by ‘Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine’ autumn issue 2015
Both in wheelchairs pushed by helpers,
the Dulings, new arrivals to the Home,
are delivered to the table for breakfast.
Where have they come from? Rosie seems
to know but in her mouth words stop.
She says, her voice up, then down, ‘Oh well.’
She turns to look at Dan, ‘Where DID we live?’
He says, ‘We didn’t always live in Framingham.
Remember Cresskill?’ He softens, ‘Sweetie, Rosie.’
This time her voice reverses, down, then up.
She says, ‘Uh huh?’ And she grins – lopsided.
Someone asks what happened to their house.
He says, ‘We sold the house.’ She says, ‘I thought
it was a rental.’ Then he adopts her words
as if she’s the one who knows what’s true
and he’s the one who’s more confused.
He corrects himself, ‘It was a rental.’
When he’s finished eating, he taps her wrist.
‘Ready? Rosie?’ He tells the table that they’re off.
He smiles broadly. ‘We’ve had our scrambled eggs.
And our bacon’ (although there was no bacon)
‘and our toast. Everything is just dandy.’
He turns to Rosie. “Sweetie, we’re going home.
Remember? 3-G. Second floor south.’
Most days they leave in a parade of two.
But sometimes, like wind that brings the outside in,
their son Matt arrives. He sits with coffee,
making conversation until they’re ready.
Then he stands his father on his feet,
takes his father’s hands and places them
on Rosie’ chair so Dan can wheel her out.
At this the past takes hold. Again he is
Principal of Cresskill Elementary School.
He nods and smiles, then addresses the table
to end with a charming quip. Matt smiles.
Rosie, who’s turned her head to look, claps.
published by ‘The Journal’ issue 54, 2015
Joan Michelson, originally from Boston, Massachusetts, lives in London. She holds a BA Honours Degree in Literature from Brandeis University, an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and an MA in American Studies from University of Sussex. From 1980-2003, she was Senior Lecturer, Head of Creative Writing and Holocaust Literature, at the University of Wolverhampton.