Nana and Narrow-Leaf Cattails
Limelighted by sun, tiny spores
finer and whiter than my grandmother’s hair
hitch a ride on a blackbird’s tail
before falling and rooting starchy shoots below
giving birth to reeds that line the marshy path
I tracked with my mother’s mother
my hand in hers, then hers in mine
her fluffy-seed hair tucked under a straw hat
slowed, I’m told, by the death of her young son.
Nana. Who modeled a love that flowed without hitch,
orbited parental noes and whirled in the direction of yes.
You were so fine
urbane, an old-world gentleman.
One of your grandfathers
planted olive trees on Syrian hills— were
those his large, capable hands
I saw at the ends of your wrists?
Yours were strong hands,
clever hands, scrubbed hands
that held scalpels and removed tumors.
And man, Ed, you were sexy—
more so because you didn’t know.
And smart: even in the throes of dementia
you still proofed my poems.
Propelled by the moon, ocean waves roll
beneath my rented cottage
the timbers of its battered posts.
I wake early to a beach cleansed
and swept throughout the night.
to a pair of egrets in the hush before dawn.
In the east, over the cliffs
pink light intensifies before shading to yellow
as the sun crowns, emerges.
I turn, invert the plastic bag in my hand,
consign my husband’s ash to the sea.
Tomorrow I’ll wake to a beach cleansed
A pair of egrets will stand together,
still. I’ll stroll the shoreline, currents will ripple
over my feet.
Judith Fox’s writing has been published in national magazines, but it was the spare text she wrote for her photography book, I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer’s, that rekindled her interest in studying and writing poetry. (The book was named “one of the best photography books of 2009” by Photo-Eye Magazine.) Fox is also a fine art photographer with work in the permanent collections of six museums including LACMA and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She is working on a collection of poems currently titled: Sailing Stones. One of her poems is a finalist for Spring 2022 Bellevue Literary Review poetry contest. http://www.judithfox.com
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