Thursday, December 6, 2007

Winding Down

//winding down
by Elizabeth Southwood

On days nobody comes to help her
she taps her stick as she shuffles with folded back
from room to room inside her steep-roofed house,
her route soothing as a labyrinth’s path.
Her faded sky-blue eyes, reflecting silver like a
frozen lake, no longer see the oaks and
pines through her casement windows, nor the
dust that lies thick upon once gleaming tables.
Her hands, twisted as tree roots, still carry
the feel of digging and planting in her
yard’s hard adobe soil, of gathering
blossoms to fashion into garlands,
unravelling thrift-shop sweaters which she
dyed with home-grown herbs, and knit into new
sweaters that always had a fashionable flair.

Her house's scent is faintly potpourri.
For company, she turns on the TV.
She steeps green tea, pours it carefully
into a delicate cup she once
held towards the sun to see the china
glow like Japanese shoji screens lit by moon.
She cools her tea on a white, crocheted cloth
on her dining room table beside a
caramel-colored ivory Kwan Yin
that called to her early one weekend morning
from a shadowy corner at a garage sale,
choosing her like a cat does its owner.

There's a recess in the wall in her white
entry hall where a half a score of years ago
she placed a wreath of eucalyptus leaves,
flowering quince, French lavender, mists of
statice. It frames a photo of a dashing,
dark-haired man with twinkling eyes. She seems to
see a few gold sequins flash when she bids him
Southwood, page 2, Winding Down, continue verse

good-night, turns out the light, and moves in the dark
to their bed...longing for his touch.

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