Kathy Waltzes with Mr. Nakamura

Mr. Nakamura is clean-shaven
and smells of hospital soap.
He sits in his wheelchair, as we all do

in ours, gazing at a star on the polished tile
floor through his round eyeglasses.
He has told me about his second stroke

ten years after the first, how it has left him
unsure which way his feet will go among
the anthuriums and heliconia

of his Hilo nursery. He fears crushing
a just-opening blossom or breaking a stem.
And I have told him about the accident,

the airbag that blew the lens
from my right eye the way wind takes a seed
from its pod, my fractured wrist and knee.

None of us wants to be chosen by Physical Therapy,
but it is Mr. Nakamura Kathy pulls to his feet,
his blue seersucker bathrobe

roped and knotted at his waist.
I see all this with my good left eye.
Pulls him to his feet

and swishes him off across their own reflections,
one-two-three and one-two-three,
a waltz that lifts them, leg-twist, arm-crook,

past stair-climb and balance ball,
Mr. Nakamura’s pajama legs flashing white
like the patches on the secondary flight feathers

of a nearly extinct forest bird
not easily seen even on a background of sky —
my injured eye sensing the movement

of heaven as the blind world always does.


Back to The Tiger Iris • More poems

© 1999 Joan Swift


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