Ashen face,
eyes filmed with gray,
that look out, dull,
gaze beyond

her wheelchair
angled randomly,
by rushed attendants,
at a wall of
clouded windows

in this day-room,
children and grandchildren
visit often: “Mama, Mama!”
as she sits unmoving
and unspeaking,

her shallow eyes,
once vastly blue,
dry wrinkles frame
her inner withered images,

but once
one grandchild only,
all alone with her,
speaks softly,
and only then

his whispers root somewhere,
her eyes begin to shine
her fog-streaked face
a brief illumination:
pale winter sun before descent,

she smiles
she recognizes
“How are you, sweetheart?”
and in tears
he talks with her,

she bravely blossoms
answers clearly,
her hand takes hold of his
“My darling” as
she calls his name,

like vines entwined,
they climb together up
this fledgling, fleeting moment,
and, before grip fails, she is
the fierce fragility of a red, red rose.

Now often he revisits
those inviolate seconds,
my husband, who uniquely
cradles in his mind still fragrant
velvet petals from that one last bloom.