Poems by Patricia Keough Wilson


Reflections on Ken by Patricia Keough-Wilson ~ April 2009

I start to listen
for the sound of your return
even before you leave
on a round of errands,
or to the nearest grocery store,
or the pharmacy on the corner
or on a short or long walk,
or to chat with our neighbors
to get your socialization tank refilled.


“Back in a jif,” you sometime say.
Makes me think of peanut butter
and jam spread on the toast
or the english muffin you make
for me each morning for breakfast.


“I won’t be long,” you say,
pausing to ask me if I
need something before you go.
A glass of your special unique
sun tea, cold in my favorite
thermos glass or at least
a quick kiss before you’re off.


Usually I settle into the solitude.
Fingers moving steadily over
computer keys or seizing
time to call or email a friend
Sometimes I open my Bible
and run my fingertips, gently,
in awe over the words of the living God
and ponder marvelous truths,
lapsing into a prayerful conversation
or a conversational prayer with
my God who is always listening.


Or I might consult my
perennial to-do list and
go clean the bathrooms,
or dust or write a letter
to absent, missed grandchildren
in the quiet times when
their absent grandfather
is off wandering on
errands or grocery shopping.


But eventually I begin to sense
your absence more acutely
even though you may
have called once or twice
informing me of your progress,
something like a train conductor
calling off station stops.


In the weeks of your radiation treatment
I pushed away thoughts
of you stretched out on a table,
machine poised over that part of you
that still stirs a soft singing
deep in my today heart
just as it did in the first years
of our late-in-life marriage.


I clench teeth and refuse
to contemplate the reality
of those five-day a week
radiation sessions.
Instead I focus my listening
again, just like that waiting
whenever you are off
for a jif or a little while
or just a bit.


I listen for the sound
of tires in the driveway,
the slam of the car door,
your steps on the driveway,
the jangle of bear bells
as the front door swings open.


Montana bear bells bought on
a long ago trip to Whitefish, Montana
now hang on the door
of our doublewide in Florida.
There’s a jangle. No bear. It’s you.
You come in saying
you are home which surely
I can hear and see.
I call out a welcoming “Hi,”
while my heart foolishly races
just a little—so silly at sixty-nine.


Sometimes the waiting is too long,
Actually it’s often too long.
I grow weary of waiting,
tired of the quiet solitude
I once craved and I call you
on your cell, asking,
“Where are you?”


I don’t say hurry, be quick,
I’m missing you, missing
the sound of you in our home,
the way you sometimes
come into my office and
plop on the couch,
a welcome visitor,
my best friend.


You answer the cell
and give me an
estimated time of arrival.
Often you chuckle
and tell me you are
pulling into the driveway,
or rounding the corner
to our cul-de-sac,
giving me just enough time
to become casual in
my welcome greeting.
After all we are
senior citizens now.


Silently and privately
I turn a verse from a poem
by Robert Browning into prayer.
“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”
“Lord God, let Ken be cancer free.
Grant us both good health.
Let us experience that very old age together,
Let us hold hands and share the best that is yet to be.
Let us use our time for your glory.
Thank you, God, for Ken.
And as it says in that poem,
I pray we trust You, God;
That we see all, and will not be afraid.
In Jesus name, Amen.”



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