The face of the deep and pine haven nursing home


The poems here refer to my late father's struggles with Alzheimer's and my efforts to care for him and a stone heritage home and small parcel of land he owned near Cambridge, Ontario. The property, like his mind, resisted growth and fecundity. Like a Canadian pioneer, I struggled against the challenges of nature and disease.


My father's land
was swamp and soft.
And the pond
home to muskrat and carp.

I could not care for it
nor him, as his mind dimmed,
a slow pool, thick and listless.

Locked in a little ward
he paced like a snail
remembering the smell of the land,
how it clung to his shoes and fingernails.

I lost my father
and the land.
The blue heron,
he left me too.
His wings like soft pleats.

Sometimes I sleep,
whisper with mice and water snakes.
There is a barge
and Dad and I set sail.
Balanced for a time
on the face of the deep.
God moving us
from place to place--
over reeds and their seeds
and through dead leaves,
their veins.


Da, your mind like a tree
lost its leaves.
A long autumn, you hibernated
before waking suddenly
that winter morn.
God bundled you
in a wool coat and galoshes
singing a little creed.

South then to Brantford
where the Natives
still war
and my love was born.

Da, I imagine it is cold
in the heavens.
You sleep with blankets.
You are warm to dream.

In the spring your spirit
comes to me.
Well again:
your mind an aura
of evergreen.

© April Bulmer 2011

Last Updated: 11/08/2017