November 2003, ¹11
       Poetry_____________________________________________                                                                                                   Dorothy Rathje 





   I have not published anything before - just written poems for family and friends and now writing about my childhood. I'm recently retired, have 6 children (4 girls and 2 boys) and 21 grandchildren. Have lived my entire life in the Midwest (Iowa and Illinois), taught school, owned some businesses and worked the last 20 years for a machinery sales co.
   I am inspired to put my thoughts into words on paper, and there is a power in words. May the reader resonate to the passion behind my words.

                                             AT THE NURSING & REHAB FACILITY 

Lined up in a row
In front of the nurses’ station,
What is it that you see?
Bodies in wheelchairs with heads bobbing to and fro?
Bodies shaking uncontrollably
That are tiny, frail and worn?
Do you see the tubes and oxygen tanks
Keeping the breath alive in those old worn-out bodies?

What do you see?
hat do you see?

In the legs now withered and worn
Do you see the long, slender, firm legs
Of one who ran with a child as they played
And laughed gleefully in summer, spring, fall and winter?

In the legs that are stiff and rigid
Do you see the legs with a long stride
Of one wandering merrily up the driveway
Happy to be home after a long day at work?

In the legs that are bruised and unshapely
Do you see the swift or slow gait
Of one who could run during a football, basketball or baseball game,
And yet could meander slowly in the moonlight with a loved one?

What do you see?
What do you see?

In the hands now gnarled and racked with pain,
Do you see the skillful and strong hands
Of one who worked a lifetime
Earning a living?

Do you see the soft and gentle hands
Of one who bathed a baby, planted a garden,
Or gathered shells on a beach?

And do you see the energy and lightning speed
Of one who could fix a broken toy
Or mend a broken heart?

What do you see?
What do you see?

In the hair that is now feathery white and thin,
Do you see the long soft hair flowing over the shoulders
Of one standing by the sink doing dishes?

Do you see the glimmer and shine
That radiates from the hair
As it dries in the sunshine after a dip in the pool?

Or do you see the soft silky hair
Being combed and brushed by a young child
Learning how to use his first comb and brush set?

What do you see?
What do you see?

In the eyes now weary and tired
Do you see the radiant, clear, beautiful eyes
Of one who could see the beauty
In a handicapped child?

Do you see the warm and gentle eyes
Of one who takes in a homeless stray animal?
And do you see the sparkling and supportive eyes
Of one whose friend just received a promotion?

What do you see?
What do you see?

In the voice that now speaks in garbled tongue,
Do you see the one rocking a baby to sleep
While singing and humming softly as a bluebird?

Do you see a mother or a father
Calling a child from play to wash up for dinner?
And do you see a passionate lover
Whisper to his mate, “I love you, I love you”?

What do you see?
What do you see?

And in the mind which now appears
To be useless, unintelligible, confused and childlike,
Do you see one whose deep profound mind
Is scanning history books, telling stories, always learning?

Do you see the dynamic awareness
Of one who loved the flag, the USA, and God?
But who was also respectful of others’ rights and beliefs?

And do you see the compassionate but energizing mind
Of one who comforted friends and families in crises?
And one who honored and protected traditions, cultures and freedom?

What do you see?
What do you see?

In the spirit of one who appears weak, lost, alone and without hope,
Do you see the pride and praise
Of one witnessing the birth of children,
The graduations, the weddings, and births of grandchildren?

Do you see the power and endurance
Of one who never faltered through sickness,
Hard times, pain, or sorrow?

And do you see the vibrant love
Of one who was alert, awake, alive, joyous
And enthusiastic throughout time?

What do you see?
What do you see?

Well, let me tell you, my friends, what it is that I see
In those wheelchairs lined up
In front of the nurses’ station.
I see the many folks who loved with their hearts
And sacrificed much for their loved ones.
I see the souls and spirits of the perfect children of God.
They always were, still are, and ever will be
The perfect children of God.
May God Bless the Child!

What do you see?
What do you see?
                                                          First time publishing

UP                                                                                                                                      RETURN