Lying there upon his bed his basic needs were met –
Sheets were changed and he was fed, his clock rewound and set,
Tho’ he had no need for second hands, or to watch an hour-glass,
To measure by the sands of time, the minutes as they pass.
The nurses, aids, and volunteers were kind, but in a hurry.
The precious time to calm one’s fears or relieve an old man’s worry,
Was lost most every day and week of work and endless running.
Because he could no longer speak, he dreamed of days spent sunning
On the terrace at his home, then diving in the sparkling pool,
To yield whatever cares had come, to the sacredness of cool.
But his life in all those yesterdays, soft rhythms, wider places,
Was gone, replaced by rigid ways, and tight confining spaces.
I heard, while on my duties, from his radio a song
And from his eyes such beauty shone, I stopped to hum along
To words I didn’t understand, the language was his own
So I sat down and held his hand, and thought of how alone
And empty every day must be, that such a simple pleasure
As sitting with a girl like me, could be a thing to treasure.
And looking deeply in his eyes, I sought for a desire or need
That I could fill, a small surprise or easily accomplished deed;
Yet on my mind, always intruding, my list of things that must be done.
I stroked his hand, and left, concluding with, “Good-bye, now – gotta run!”
Just as I reached the door I knew it – what it was that he most needed
Just a little thing, if I could do it, to satisfy a want unheeded.
“Acque vive,” I recalled, from the song his radio played for me,
Two words I knew, then spoke aloud, from distant memory –
“Living waters,” like sweet perfume, the words infused the air
His sparkling eyes lit up the room, as I sought for his wheelchair.
Returning with his chariot, I wheeled it by his bed, then thought
I didn’t know just how I’d carry it off, this plan I’d wrought.
But I leaned over his weakened frame, and he braced his arms around me –
This job on which I laid my claim, I would not let confound me.
Much lighter than I’d thought, he was a burden I could bear,
And feelings that could not be bought, that both of us would share,
Settled all around us, despite the drab and gloomy walls.
We let our joy surround us, racing up and down the halls.
The key that opened the door to a dream, I had in my possession –
I’d snatched it for our secret scheme, using all of my discretion.
Unlocking the door, I wheeled him through, in rapt anticipation
Crossing the shiny white-tiled floor, we arrived at our destination.
A large deep tub in which to lie, to feel it once again –
Carefree as the time went by – the liquid beauty on his skin.
I turned the knobs and water flowed, and as gently as I could
Undressed him, then he taught me as he showed me how I should
Remove his long prosthetic limb, I mustn’t get it wet.
Tub filled at last, I lowered him – briefly our eyes met,
And we beheld each other’s heart, knowing this moment could not last.
I filled my hands with acque vive, bestowing the present with his past.
And I saw the living water pour from hands unlike my own
For they held within them so much more of life than I had never known.
With the sound of many voices, singing the same sweet song,
The mother and her son rejoice as the waters sing along.
Too soon, my hands were mine again, the holy moment faded.
I know not how it all began, but I felt as they cascaded –
Life-giving waters – through my heart, and raining everywhere.
But I remember that the start was when I stopped to care,
And deeply search an old man’s soul, for hurts that heal with just a kiss.
I found but one ache to console, and the pain was mine, not his.
Reflecting my need back to me, his was the greater act of giving,
I offered him freedom only briefly, he showed me the beauty of the waters living.
This was written because it came to mind this week for an unknown reason. I realized after I started it, that it would fit in with Sidey’s weekend theme – Beauty. Someday I’ll tell the story upon which this poem is based. The story is true. It is a precious memory from my life at age 19. The perspective has been changed, but the story remains the same.
To all my Gentle Readers, may you find your Living Waters, and know the joy and abundance of enough. . .