Each month they get more frail,
the elders I know.
Shining for the hour of the visit
in pride and love, in gracious conversation,
to retire wearily
to the mattress pressed into a cradle
by overlong afternoon naps.
My father can’t see well
Mother’s haunted by overripe fruit in all she smells
My aunt, by her husband recently gone, the walls of home get her down.
An uncle is all bones, he’s lost his sporting form…
And another who simply wishes to die:
At lunch, his brown hands large as plates, like tree trunks lined and veined
cup the air laxly as it rains, sudden and heavy, outside.
A word stirs him. The name of the town he grew up in
hails a storm of stories from childhood and youth.
He tells of wise doctors who healed the poor,
trees laden with purple fruit,
men of true grain who built palaces
and sired strong sons and daughters
whose laughter echoes in the courtyards
of a verdant heart.
Purple and green, warm things,
lost to him whose days call up a death-like sleep;
and spirit, huddled in its skeletal crib,
docks at this last stop, lonely.