• Marian Glaser


By Marian Glaser © September 1997

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Louise counted her blazing candles.

Nine, one for each decade.

Her great-grandson’s sapphire eyes

reflected them. The seven other

boys and girls were finishing their loud

game of hide and seek before

sitting down. She’d heard their laughter

echo, filling this now empty house.

This Black Forest cake

would please them. She’d blow before

candle wax could drip on the mounds

of whipped cream her daughter had spread

over the rich dark chocolate cake.

The cherries soaked in kirsch might

make them tipsy, but not for long.

This ninetieth birthday had made her think

of the stream of life and death.

This group clustered around her

had come from her body

joined with Ralph.

Their sons and daughters

had played, cried, grown, loved.

Watching and loving each one had given them

a pleasure so deep it still filled her nights and

it had Ralph’s until his car crashed.

A heart attack had left a good driver dead when

his car hit the maple now blazing with oranges and reds.

She’d run down their steep driveway

ten years ago, knowing the crash meant injury or death.

He hadn’t met six people here.

It was easy to love them for him too.

He would have gobbled his piece, just like them.

Good thing her daughter had promised to wash

every plate, cup and glass while her husband dried.

Cleaning up after a family party was not a celebration.

Ralph had dried on his eightieth birthday,

finding that more relaxing than sitting

in his chair, his feet up, reading the weekly rural news.

Suddenly his arm had circled her waist.

She had looked up and he’d pointed to their television.

A group of Japanese macaques were washing

anonymous globs of food in sea water.

After washing came greedy eating,

the salt giving added zest.

Ralph had laughed with her, delighted.

No wonder she’d miss him until she died and rejoined him.

Her herb garden helped but

plants in pots could not replace

the beans, corn, tomatoes, asparagus, rhubarb,

gladiolas, cosmos, portulacas, and tobacco plants

she and Ralph had grown.

Now a grandson dug while a granddaughter dropped

tulip and crocus bulbs.

She enjoyed the colours, wished she could stoop

this stiffened back and await death

planting a thousand daffodils.

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