Monday, January 28, 2008

Bird of Paradise ~ 2002

“There is no ugly flower on earth. They are all beautiful, and they know to look to the sun for their light.”
— K. E. Hansen


I wheel you into the sunny courtyard, a fusion
of bromeliads, ferns, palms. A dozen doors look
into the courtyard, yet I’ve never seen anyone
emerge. Residents lie wilted
in their beds.

Angling your wheelchair to maximize sun
and sitting on a bench nearby, I remember
many times I’ve sat with you as you sunbathed,
your skin, soaked
in lavender lotion, bronzing in the heat.
Stretched out bikini-clad,
you would tell me about your latest love.
Corey. Todd. Max. Names changed
often, your excitement
never did. We are quiet

Planted in this nursing home, unwillingly
uprooted, you know well what's
ahead: TV (Animal Planet or Jeopardy),
dinner hour (corned beef or turkey), sleeping pill
(one—or two, if you get lucky). Your roommate
no longer speaks. Next door,
a woman in her nineties wails
for her mother, long since dead.

Yet at this moment,
past and future melting,
you lift
your face to the sun, brilliant
smile unfolding,
simply absorbing,
drinking warmth,
finding the nutrients
in the earth of your life.