After my father retired at 84, before he
finally started joining mom at St. Irene’s,
dad would lay out in the garden for hours
picking weeds in overalls. Oafishly
rotund, a mass, a mound, he seemed
more at home with himself than he had
been since childhood. Though he never
talked about childhood except to say how
his dad would park his butt on a curb,
bid him sit still. Behave, while ole grand
dad went in to have a few with the boys then
stumble back out to his son, dusk and home.
It would be summer. Dad would tune the
transistor to W. G. N. for the Cubs’ games.
First he braced on a fence post or hoe to
tenderly ease his bulk down to one knee,
right hand descended, then the other knee.
Finally, legs-kicked-out, dad would prop on
his elbow, side-wise. Reach out, tug, claw,
pull, roll, crawl around the garden for hours.
It was a process, a procedure in which his
hands worked with a dogged determination
I have come to appreciate as I gnaw through
a branch with a wide-toothed saw or as
I build a chain of exercises, of activities
that lead one of my stroke-stricken patients
back to lifting his arm, dressing himself alone
in a room inlaid with complex geometries
by dawn’s relentless march into shadow.
Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, “Engines of Belief.” His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Xavier Review, Plainsongs, Red Eft Review, Big River Poetry Review as well as other literary journals and anthologies. Ed lives in Baton Rogue, LA and is an occupational therapist. More works can be found on his website, edrpoet.com.