There was a recent discussion on Facebook about the challenges the elderly face, in particular loneliness. In this holiday season, it's especially important to pause and seek an opportunity to touch someone's life in a way that tells them they matter.
I wrote the following poem in 2012. It has undergone countless revisions to reach its present form. I finally decided to stop tinkering with it and let it be as it is. For those who know the person it is written about, I know you will understand and remember the day. For those of you who don't, I wager there is someone you know of whom it could have been written.
Thanksgiving blessings to you all, and a joyous Christmas season.
A furious north gale sweeps
through the naked woods,
a madman pummeling our house,
its brutal fists driving the
snow into drifts, claiming what was
green and seventy yesterday.
I toil in the storm, things
I should have done then,
my cheeks slapped
by the unforgiving wind.
I think of yesterday’s
festive table, and the one
who ate sorrow,
sometimes catching my eye,
trying on smiles that did not fit,
surrounded yet alone, aching
with love that did not end
in the closing earth, life at
ninety-six beside an empty chair.
Surely she thought of Thanksgivings
when her table groaned, when her
apron was love spattered, stirring
gravy while he carved the bird.
She stared through the glass,
looking at a sky as blue as a spring jay,
the great-grands at play, their feet
soaring high enough to touch his face,
laughter beneath a late
autumn sun, one to achingly desire
when roses no longer bloom.
My chores are done, but I turn
at the door and labor again
through the deepening snow
to the silent garden where
only memories grow,
gathering sage in fragrant
bouquets of the enduring