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Nature's Holy Plan

from Push Mountain Road by Pat Durmon

In autumn
I am brought to my knees
by fiery wonders—
a canopy of lush crowns
burning in low valleys
and upon the mountains overhead.


In winter
winds speak in riddles,
blowing leaves and sweeping sky
clean of clouds. I hold everything up
to the light. I am a deer peering through
a ragged curtain of trees.


In spring
I become a voyeur, looking at
a hundred shades of green.
Everything slows for me
to plant seeds, smell the rain,
watch bluebirds work a house.


In summer
the sun dawns shell pink in a cloudless sky.
I am stunned to stillness
by a mist whispering up
the river bank to nestle
against the earth’s wet breast.

An Abiding Place
from Push Mountain Road by Pat Durmon

on this Sabbath Day

I search for love lavished

within walls where stained glass

reigns high,

and there,

I listen hard

for broken bread

and poured-out wine


a white-haired old man

faces a sermon

and droops his head

as if inviting a brighter light

to take him over

like wafting gardenias

make sure

nothing else



from Lights and Shadows in a Nursing Home
by Pat Durmon


After her six-week stay in the hospital,

I drive my mother to a nursing home

ten miles away from her perennials

and her rain gauge. She and I stare

straight ahead like two shipwrecked

survivors. A muted sort of grief.


A nurse wheelchairs Mother

through wide doors of an outstretched

buff brick building. I follow

while sorrow wells in my throat.


Today, two weeks later, I come and go

like fog. Brief visits, long visits. 

Each trip connecting me to her and others

in rooms linked like a bracelet. She

talks about the cold and asks for a sweater.

An ice sculpture grows

in the center of my chest. 


Her fast eyes know I too am lost. 

My dull brain wonders about a manual. 

Where is it? The manual telling me

what to say and what not say,

how to respond to tender moments,

what to do when her mind flames.

I need the big map showing

the dark narrow roads,

not just the interstates.

Pat Durmon remembers the experience in the poem: This poem is an early scene of the last decade of my mother’s life. She and I are in it together. The book explores the thought that life in the nursing home has lights and shadows. Many of the poems focus on moments in ordinary days. The poems purposefully tell about real things that happen to real people in nursing homes. Moments of joy can be created in a nursing home, and the family member can learn to see the light if he searches for it. This book helps the family member looking for the light with eyes and heart.

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