The Alternative Ending – Catharine Bramkamp

(Gift to Susan, May 2014)

Gathering dust are
The red hats, purple shoes

And honestly once swimsuit season
Is permanently closed
What is there left to celebrate?

Whisky for one

Let us be those ladies who lunch
Regularly for two or three hours
Gin martinis
Pasta with cream sauce
Ice cream and coffee
Or burgers from In and Out – never
Too old for that meal
Melted cheese on anything
That doesn’t move.

At 80 I know
A doctor’s visit is never good
So I won’t

And instead finish off those pills
At random times during the day
Maybe operate some heavy equipment

Drive too fast and smash
Into a guard rail to see if it holds.

Experiment with the truth
Dealing it out like paper plates
For Christmas dinner
Because I’m tired of nurturing the family china

I will run up the visa bill fully aware
That making the minimum payment
Means it won’t be paid in full
For another 34 years

Drop the gym membership for

We made a pact
Pinky swore

Because that future?
The one for which
we are supposed to save?

Well it never came.

If you weren’t already
convinced that California wasn’t real
this would do it
this high September Afternoon
the low sun glaring straight
into your eyes
with the fierce intensity
of a grade school memory

Those hot asphalt noons
the color wheel blue sky
exactly opposite the orange leaves

Abandon sweaters
one hand knit and bulky
But red none the less
the other belonging to
a boy we never kissed

bundled, resting
splintery wood benches
shards breaking off discouraging
any more bare foot prints

five more outdoor days
five more pieces of Halloween candy
before the haze of Thanksgiving
the paper turkey cut from a hand print
the thumb as its head

we played quietly while grown- ups talk
Only remembering the sweater
after it was too late.


Catharine Bramkamp, author.Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Catharine Bramkamp, author. Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Catharine Bramkamp publishes both prose and poetry. Her poetry has been included in a dozen anthologies including And The Beats Go On and a chapbook Ammonia Sunrise (Finishing Line Press). She serves as a poetry editor and Judge for Redwood Writers. She has written 17 novels and 3 books on writing. She is currently working as the Chief Storytelling Officer for a wine company because Social Media can be a lot like poetry. She lives in California.