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Broken Ribs

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.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

2 responses »

  1. Your impressive poem on Breathing Poetry brought me here and I’m glad I followed the link. Your ‘about this poem’ is a wonderful addition and leaves little to be said except that I love the opening idea – to heal completely you must sit for six weeks near your open window. Six weeks of observing the comings and goings of Thoreau street – the real and the metaphorical place, would probably heal more than broken ribs. Thanks for a lovely visit.


  2. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction ~
    Most statements in this poem are autobiographically accurate. My mother, a resident of Thoreau Street in Concord, MA, is now recovering from two broken ribs. Recently I took a trip to California. The incident with the rabbit is a composite scene : I was walking past one adult and one juvenile rabbit, and other people were sitting on the grass. For this poem, I presume one rabbit is female, and I presume that the blossoms were azaleas. My sister is familiar with floral essences, with the healing powers of flowers. My mother has seen this poem; she says it’s fine with her.
    Sound & Sense ~
    I select some words especially for how they sound together : “rank” and “slack” ; “gallant-shouldered” and “grandchildren.” This poem is governed by images of expansion/contraction : lungs against ribs, oceans against shores, the mechanisms of smell, the swelling of flowers, the stillness of a motionless rabbit, the extrovert (phone calls) mother against the introvert (gated park) daughter, life against death.


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