Once I make up my mind to do it, I love dusting the bookshelves in my room. It takes a while. I have to pick up this book and that, planning to read or re-read. There are so many photos and little things on the shrine-like shelves that I have to pick up and think about, too. And next to the shelves are the little chairs on the wall, each with something special on the seat. One has a wonderful bird’s nest that we had in our patio garden in Mexico. Another has two black, faceless angels. We have a thing about faceless angels around here. She started it, and now I like them.
Anyway. Catherine, our 80-something widowed next door neighbor, is dying in a hospice room at St. Mary’s, up the road from us. We went to see her on Monday, but she is in a coma. It will be any time now. Dusting, I thought about her and how she used to bring over something Greek that she had cooked for our dinner. How she listened to Rush Limbaugh turned up full volume, but she openly envied our having each other to love. I thought about how I could have been a much better friend.
My hand fell upon a collection of Jane Kenyon’s poems, called Otherwise. I remember that book arriving in the mail about this same time nine years ago, when we were living in Mexico and my mother was dying. I took it with me when we went for the day to the balneario, a collection of swimming pools perched on a short cliff overlooking the beach where cows and horses strolled along the Lake, and the mountains on two sides. The book fell open to this poem, and I cried out in recognition as I read the first lines. I put it here today in memory of my mother and in prayer for Catherine.
She is like a horse grazing
a hill pasture that someone makes
smaller by coming every night
to pull the fences in and in.
She has stopped running wide loops,
stopped even the tight circles.
She drops her head to feed; grass
is dust, and the creekbed’s dry.
Master, come with your light
halter. Come and bring her in.
--“In the Nursing Home” by Jane Kenyon, from the book of her collected poems titled Otherwise.