Friday, November 21, 2008

Catherine Mair & Patricia Prime: PURPLE IRISES

A daughter-in-law brings spring flowers for us to take to the rest home.

wrapped in damp tissue
three purple irises
on her night stand

Molly's in the exercise room. When she's ready, I help her to the lounge where the other ladies are having morning tea. "I'll go and fetch your tea," I say. The tea trolley is parked outside Molly's door. "Who's it for?" questions the officious tea lady. "It's for Molly. She's in the lounge. May I please have a cup for me and my friend?" "No, you can't. It's for residents only." I return with the solitary cup. Along comes another carer. "What no tea for you? I'll get you some." She returns a few minutes later with two cups of tea and a ginger slice.

"I'm glad it didn't land on you!" The pot plant bursts like a bomb at the feet of an elderly woman. "What's that strange sound?" asks a lady beside me. "It's the carer slapping a cushion to remove the dirt," I reply. I ask her how long she's been living in the rest home. "I only come for a day now and again. I've a huge family: two daughters and five sons to look after me." She reminisces about life on the farm, bringing up two babies while her husband served in Egypt. Her long-term memory is excellent.

The woman with the Dutch accent asks, "What's your name?" She says she has Parkinson's and finds it difficult to talk. She says how thick her tongue feels, like a barrier in her mouth. I'm thankful that although I was diagnosed with the same illness sixteen years ago my tongue is not affected.

Some instinct makes me examine Molly's arm. Her left forearm is mottled with bruising. I check her right arm. The bruising is worse and there's an ugly haematoma between her wrist and elbow.

I summon a nurse, who brings in the night book. She reads the treatment Molly received the previous evening. "Her arm was bandaged and it should be bandaged now," she says. "I'll do it straight away. She will need to see the doctor later on." Gently she applies a pressure bandage to the bruising and straps up Molly's forearm.

bruises on her arm
more startling
than one on mine

As we leave the rest home I notice that the croquet lawn is covered with cherry blossoms.

in spite of the gale
croquet players
line up balls and hoops

by Catherine Mair and Patricia Prime
Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
and Auckland, New Zealand

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