In a Nursing Home
You are surrounded by
reminders of who
you used to be.
A painting of your garden of
rare trees and flowers,
ponds, bridges, gazebo,
you designed and built;
a wedding picture in which we both
wear white suits and burgundy shirts.
I sport a Jackie Kennedy pillbox
with velvet-dotted veil. You, with
cigar in hand, look like the owner
of a prosperous tropical casino.
Photos of the dogs and cats we had
instead of children. Photos of
collages that covered whole walls,
stoneware sculptures taller than you,
bowls and plates large enough for
a giant’s dinner, graceful vases,
all gleaming with iridescence.
Sometimes we sit outside in
the courtyard garden of your
final home, watch the stream’s
farther bank for a glimpse of
deer and fawn, swimming beaver,
birds that fly from feeder to tree.
You talk very little these days,
laugh even less. But today, you
sit in your wheelchair watching
yellow and black banded bees
drink from the small white
blossoms of a viburnum bush.
“Bumblebees should not be able to fly,”
you say. “Look at their small wings.”
They say you can’t think well anymore.
But today you speak firmly:
“I’ve learned from the bumblebee.
It shouldn’t be able to fly
but it does.”
AT WAR WITH LYME
A flight of stairs steepens into a mountain.***
Names once well-known slip
from his mind’s directory.
Eyes go out of focus while driving.
Not enough energy or strength in his muscles
to pluck, press, and bow the strings of his bass.
Microscopic warriors are entrenched
in the dense tissue of my love’s
brain eyes heart
replicating with manic speed
and flinging arrows
of pain that morph into chainsaw
teeth. His eyes veil and twitch
in their sockets. His walk is out
of balance. Boulders crash inside
his head. Thick fog engulfs his mind.
We put our faith in the power
of potions and practitioners.
We spend our days plotting
his next assault against the enemy.
Reluctantly he puts his life on hold.
We’ve joined an army
no one volunteers for,
on a forced march
that may last for years,
no guarantee of ever
a safe haven.
Judith Lechner’s debut book of poetry, The Moon Sings Back, was published in 2011 by Waterside Press. Her poetry has appeared inChronogram, Home Planet News, Edna, Henry, Literary Gazette and other literary journals and in anthologies including Festschrift for Enid Dame. Her poems and essays have been read on radio (WAMC, WKZE, WDST) and interpreted with visual art at Alliance Gallery and Arts Society of Kingston. Judith has been a featured reader at many venues in New York’s Hudson Valley, including the Woodstock Poetry Festival. She is a member of the Goat Hill Poets, a group that performs poetry as an ensemble and has published an anthology. On the second Friday of each month, she hosts a Writer’s Night at Mezzaluna in Saugerties where poetry and prose of outstanding local authors is featured. A former teacher, she has been a writer and editor, for many years, of educational materials for students and teachers from elementary school through community college. Judith has published 24 nonfiction books and numerous articles.