To heal completely, you must sit for six weeks
near your open window, taking deep breaths
to prevent the rank deployment of pneumonia,
to avoid what settles in when weakened lungs go slack.
Can you smell fresh blossoms along Thoreau Street,
or fragrant breezes blown from Walden Pond
over White Pond where you used to swim,
gallant-shouldered, with all your grandchildren?
Can you taste the salt of the Atlantic? Today as you wait
for phone calls from lifelong friends, I sit within
a gated park overlooking the ageless
Pacific, azalea bushes in full bloom, each flower
vanilla and five-petaled, so strongly perfumed
that the small brown rabbits who hide within them
peddle their cure-alls. One rabbit is dashing from bush
to bush across a hillock. Now she stops, stock-still,
just beyond my knees. It seems she does not breathe.
It seems she is not afraid of me, merely asking whether
I am more frightened than you are, dear Mother,
by how easily we all crumble, by unbridged distances,
by thickly-laden oceans lapping away our shores.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)