When my father weakened my mother took to tending their garden.

All Fall and Winter,

stooped, she has swept leaves.

Piling them into big, black sacks

and tying a tight knot at their tops,

white, arthritic fingers with joints that locked her wedding ring in place an age ago.

Hauling the dead weight down the garden, day in day out, in an act of dedication.

All Winter,

My mother has swept leaves.


And each morning she writes this and other love letters to my Father,

like talking to him on the phone and then

walking to the village for his paper

which she ferries to Broad Oak where my father is dying.


Here, she passes the baton to a masked sentry nurse,

my Dad swaying and waving through glass, although less and less so as time passes.

Later, the paper is brought to his chair

where he holds it for as long as he’s able to read between the lines.

After a time it drops to his lap while he’s sleeping.


Yesterday, in passing, Mum mentioned the trees that still clung to some leaves and

we spoke of how each Season has its reason.

A long, deep Fall this one.

All Winter my Mother has swept leaves.

SJL December, 2020