The Watch

Photo Credit: knowitallnanna via Google Images

She sits at her post today,
as she does everyday—
early morning,
late afternoon—
she’s there.

Trains clouded eyes,
(once blue,)
on the desk where visitors sign in,
gnarled hands folded in her lap,
hands that once gave pleasure
and care.

Beneath etchings
on her weathered face
I conjure youthful beauty,
presume pride taken

each Tuesday
in preparation for stolen moments
with her lover—
the rogue who left her
and their child.

“Gabriel n’est pas encore arrivé”
she sighs at the end of every watch—
the only words she speaks
all day, everyday.

Dust motes dance as fading sun
slices through crisp evening air.
She shuffles down the hall
to the room she shares with Marquerite,
wearing loneliness
like a purple shroud.

Forty years, or more, have passed.
Her son, I wonder—
did he ever visit?

Today at dVerse Poets’ Pub, Stu McPherson invites us to mix up a blend of the melancholy and the beautiful. My thoughts took me back many years, to when I lived and nursed in France, in the Jura.

Much of my career was involved with working with the elderly. This story-poem is a fictionalized account of a woman in a nursing home environment. The reality is that she did, indeed, spend her days waiting for Gabriel to visit. (Funny–I remember his name, not hers). All the rest is fiction. As far as I know, she had no one. Her son, Gabriel, may have been dead, or…who knows?. The lives of older people are ripe for speculation.

I’ve always sought to remember that the aged have histories. Looking with care, one can see the beauty and joy (or sorrow) that may once have been theirs. This poem needs a lot of work, but it’s my offering for today’s Poetics. Critique welcome!