Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tanka Prose


We knew it could happen at any time. But the manicured evergreens, that stately magnolia tree, no stray leaf or seedpod, said otherwise. As did the covered porch that sheltered us, its graceful rocking chairs always occupied on best-weather days. And the soft whoosh-click of the automatic glass doors. Then once inside, greetings and smiles, swirls of life in the aquarium down the hall, sunlight squeezing between the slats of venetian blinds.

We knew it could happen at any time. But Christmas came as usual, though this was the year we thought it might not. And each day, comfort-food aromas arising from the kitchen, a subtle soap scent from the laundry. Cheerful floral carpeting that muffled the brisk steps of workers and visitors. The nameplate affixed on the wall by her door. 

We knew it could happen at any time....

without fanfare
residents disappear
from the home
when their time is up—
rooms tidied and swept clean

Ribbons, Fall 2016


  1. This is universal, always knowing what will happen soon, but still not prepared when it does. My father was in hospice for 18 months, a lot longer than expected. Since he never was in pain and was mostly alert, every day was a bonus.


  2. Poignant and powerful, with its layered title, rich sensory details, and quiet understatement. An excellent and very relatable piece.

  3. Beautifully drawn - the tanka really capturing that "head-space" caregivers must turn back to - again and again - in order to keep caring for the living.

  4. This is well-wrought, evoking that which most of us have been touched by, or will be, at some point.