Miss Worthington

I saw her one last time.
Erect and hating her condition,
she rolled her chair a little more
towards the windows of her winter garden:
“The elms will have to go, you know.
The elms are sick...

“I climbed them as a child.”

There was that catch of hidden sadness.
Her voice had lost its edge.

Miss Worthington had stayed alone
from choice. She’d had her lovers.
The spinster word was not for her,
a vibrant beauty once and weathered now
to autumn’s gold and shorter days.

And in that instant, when I looked at her,
I knew that winter’s crystal hands
had reached for her and brittled her resolve.
“It’s time,” she said.
Perhaps she meant the elms.
Then she leaned back
and closed her eyes.

“It was just yesterday when I was young.
And suddenly
I’m being called to give account.

“Oh yes... I know.

 “One day, I thought, I will be wise.
We shall have time – tomorrow.
First let us conquer, change the world.
Let’s catch the firebird
and torch old customs, thoughts,
moralities from yesteryear.

“But what is wisdom... am I wise?
All that I’ve learned is: time cannot be saved.
The time you do not use is lost.
There is no piggy bank in which
you later find those days you wasted
saving time.
And while I lived my life in haste
it passed me by.

“The elms will die...”
Her voice trailed off.
She followed some internal discourse
from which I was excluded.

I waited quietly and was at peace.
Her triffid garden filtered light and sound,
some wild, exotic green caressed her lovingly.

My dear Miss Worthington,
you were my teacher and my friend.
Because of you my mind took wings,
and you it was who taught me courage.
You are the wisest of the wise
and your accounting will suffice.

Her voice came back,
her eyes stayed closed.
“They fuss so, don’t you know?”

A fly, emboldened,
settled on her cheek.
When no hand waved it off, I knew.

I did not move.
Her eyes stayed closed.
A smile had woven
sunlight in her face.
A sudden ray of brightness
touched her silver hair.

Oh ...

3rd prize in the 2009 Margaret Reid Poetry Constest for Traditional Verse; published in the poetry collection 'Tangents'

Rose Mary Boehm's picture

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Peru. Two novels (COMING UP FOR AIR and THE TELLING) as well as a collection of her poems (TANGENTS) have been published in the UK. Many recent poems have been published - or are about to be published - in mainly US poetry reviews such as 'Toe Good', 'Burning Word', 'Other Rooms', 'Full of Crow', 'Poetry Quarterly', 'Verse Wisconsin', 'Punchnel's' and quite a few others.

Last updated August 04, 2012