Those weren’t his exact words, but then
he didn’t grow up under her thumb of steel.
He hadn’t been slashed by that well-honed tongue.
He could afford to be polite, the man who took over her care
after my therapist advised me to move out of state.
When we spoke long-distance by phone, he told me
he saw other residents in her facility cringe
in terror when her three-thousand-dollar motorized
wheelchair rocketed in their direction.
He said my mother gazed straight ahead,
her painter’s smock streaming out behind her
as she raced to the art room.
My mother—willing to crush a toe,
gouge a thigh, bash a knee.
He told me of casualties in the elevator.
I pitied them, her captive victims.
Yet, it’s strange how I cherish
this last image of her, this picture I hold up to light:
Her face, almost radiant, lit with inner vision,
she rolls down a long, narrow corridor.
Despite polio-crippled limbs, she flies
toward whatever version of Paradise awaits her
among canvases, brushes, tubes of paint.
Her smock, streaked with vermillion, emerald, topaz, indigo,
floats about her emaciated frame—
like vibrant wings of some tropical bird of prey
maddened by hunger for beauty.
holds a BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Grey Sparrow, The Ekphrastic Review, Third Wednesday, Willawaw, and other journals.
How We Get the Final Word, a poem by Laura Reed in
Verse-Virtual (February 2022)
The Aging Poet Talks Back to Her Parents, micro-poem in
Shot Glass Journal (Issue 36, January 2022)
Moth Wings, poem in Third Wednesday (18 October 2021)