the healing muse

Volume 12, 2012

Not Going to Buttonwood

Kathleen Kramer

The poem I’d planned to write left me
on Route 15. While I rhapsodized,
mentally, about the mountains—
how they folded like origami
around a lake with turquoise water—
my poem must have taken the exit
to Buttonwood.

I’d always wanted to see Buttonwood—
imagined a town with tiny brown houses
ranged in a row along a grosgrain road.
But this is no trip for sight-seeing.
I’m on a daughter-bound mission
to my father’s bedside.

I catch sight of my poem
where the bypass meets Route 322,
but it’s poking along below
the speed limit, so I toot, pull into
the passing lane, and wave sadly
as I hurry by.

In the hospital, asleep on his side,
my father is a collection of bones
and tubes and wires. I sit down
in a green vinyl chair in the corner.
Nurses bustle by in the hall, footfalls
of sensible shoes brisk and familiar.

Then, the tentative step of a poem,
half-formed, and I look up to see it
standing in the doorway. I put my
finger to my lips, Shhh, and my poem
enters, chooses the chair at the foot
of the bed. Together, we watch
the rise and fall of my father’s breath.

Back to Volume 12, Table of Contents

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