Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coming Home

In the mortal frame made of a hundred bones….there is something which can be called a windswept spirit.          Basho

Sometimes a caged bird is not a metaphor and bird poop on the window is not short-hand for impending doom. Berkley East Convalescent Hospital has both and the news is all good.

Enough already! Peggy will have been eight weeks, five days in rehab and they are finally showing her where the door is this Saturday. Not to be wheeled but to walk out with her walker. In horizontal, out vertical. During her stay it should surprise nobody that she got to know every caregiver, therapist and many fellow patients by name and wrote poems for over a dozen of them. When you learn each of their stories and get a hug from many as you are wheeled down the hall it must be time to leave.  Skilled and gracious as the staff is, one wishes never to return.

Peggy’s femur fractured just below the hip socket in four places but her spirit was never broken. If she could have been lifted in body as in mind she would have been launched, wind-swept,  into orbit two months ago.  A friend of mine in New York calls every week to cheer her up and told me he was the one who is cheered.

Time, reputed to be the great healer turned out to be a double agent. The healing which happens over time is in combat with passivity the consequence of which is atrophy. She had to inch through the hurt in order to restore movement.

The eye is a camera panning our field of vision, both inner and outer. It could choose the splattered excrement or it might fix on the blue parakeets and love birds in the exercise room with plumage that stretches the imagination. Then there is the purplish bromeliad by Peggy’s bedside with ancestors from the Amazon. Or the patients brought to their knees by some terrible swift sword, down but not out, their aged faces moving from faraway bewilderment to a kind of grace; a recognition that there is still time allotted for them to move in new ways. I have had conversations with several film directors who at one time had positions of power and were now defenseless. As they came to terms with their predicament their look seemed to take on a dimension never felt before. To witness that transformation was an unexpected privilege as they tapped into a resource within.

Home is everyone’s destination. Yet Peggy accommodated herself so well at the convalescent facility that it became a kind of home. My daughter likened it to a cruise ship on the way to nowhere. As a poet, she lives in another country, her imagination, which is portable.

As for the bird droppings they still remain. The window is on the fourth floor and louvered. It would take Spider Man with a high-pressured hose to clean it up. It is unsightly but a constant reminder that poop happens in life. How we deal with it says it all and Peggy has transcended the poop.


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