Judith Fox

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


her dancing-on-the-piano-flapper-flare

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—

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.


Malibu Daybreak

Propelled by the moon, ocean waves roll

and unroll

beneath my rented cottage

gently sway

the timbers of its battered posts.


I wake early to a beach cleansed

and swept throughout the night.

Returned, burnished

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

and swept.

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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