Friday, August 05, 2005

A Hibiscus Wind

My mother, who’s living at Loretto nursing home now, had a brain tumor the size of a lemon, and though the operation was supposedly a success, she has lost her short-term memory and is often confused. But she sometimes says remarkable things:

A Hibiscus Wind

Mom rolls her wheelchair to the red hibiscus

in the nursing home lounge,

watches closely. Dusty petals tremble,

and so do her thin shoulders, rounded

under sweaters and afghans. She leans closer, bowing

her head toward the fabric blossoms. Her pale

face reflects scarlet and gold. She glows

with excitement, leans ever closer.

The air conditioner snorts, rattles, and wheezes.

"Oh," she says, backing suddenly away,

voice falling, like her hands. "It's only

the wind. I thought small birds

were gathering to burst out

and I wanted to be ready

to catch one."

Mary Stebbins,

For Margaret (Mom)

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I would like to be near the bush when the birds of wisdom and love burst forth and I’d want to gather them all into my arms for a moment. Perhaps they’ll arrive in a rainbow of color, sprinkle me with joy dust.

While my mother suffered only disappointment, I experienced something akin to a small epiphany, hearing her words and seeing images of these birds, seeing another world superimposed over the everyday one.

Mary, August 5, 2005

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