Tag Archives | Patricia Wellingham-Jones

My Wise Elder by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

My grandmother died when my mother was five,
our only photo shows her cradling
the last child, smiling over
the lace-drenched, long white christening gown.
In family memory she was gentle
with a snap to her tongue
and a Scot’s practical bent.

I hope I inherited some of that.
The only gift I know for sure
was breast cancer.

Her image floats to the front
of my mind as I grapple
with the loss of two friends
and the advanced cancer
of two others. I feel her smile
as I sign up for a long-desired
trip to Costa Rica, daunted

by the logistics of getting there
but determined to live actively
as long as I can.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

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Almost Last Words by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_micheleranchetti'>micheleranchetti / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

On her deathbed,
oxygen 24/7,
sliding in and out of awareness,
Mother blinked her green eyes
up to mine.

Daughter, she whispered
in a scratchy, unused voice,
I love you so much –
and you drive me crazy.

I blinked my matching green eyes
full of wet shimmers and said,
I know, Mom.
I feel exactly the same.

We both sniffled, then laughed,
she held up her wasted arms.
I fell into them, carefully.
We blended our tears
on our smiling faces.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Long Journey by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Photo by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

The river we paddled together,
skirting brushy banks,
avoiding boulders, portaging
around the crashing splendor
of waterfalls, that river
changed character
when you died.

I was becalmed for awhile,
drifting in aimless circles
on a still backwater
until I picked up my paddle,
continued downstream.

The river formed a new channel,
curves and flows more gently now
through grain-filled fields
and lowland woods
with shy browsing deer.

I paddle, one side then the other,
keep the canoe steady, on course,
admire the broad sky,
the herons and kingfishers,
splash of a trout.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Reeling by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Reeling
behind a mother’s eyes
I watched you
learn on one day
you had cancer
and exactly four weeks later
breathe your last.
I only let those eyes
weep on you, my child,
twice in this brief time.
The tears will reside
always
in my heart.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Dance by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Dance? Too many images
flash before my eyes
to capture just one in any detail.
Bent over backwards in a promenade
at a Boy Scout-Girl Scout square dance.
Poodle skirts on New Year’s Eve
as our saddle shoes jitterbugged.
High school prom in tulle and corsage
with the brother of the boy I’d just necked with.
Watching the short boy’s eyes track the ascent
as I rose to my almost six feet tall.
Stepping out of a failed crinoline
at the medical school’s Winter Formal.
After a full shift at the hospital
tangoing all night with my Peruvian.
Dripping sweat and fake diamonds on silk
at a friend’s wedding-dance reception.
After surgery learning to line dance
in an effort to regain balance.
So many years, so many dances.
Why, even last week I shimmied and shook
to the music wrapping up a senior exercise class.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

The Demands of Art by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Maybe I gave up a social life
so I could write poems
but since that same gathering
of people with mouths moving,
idle words slithering, empty laughs
braying into non-listening ears
is what drains me, turns me wild-
eyed, desperate to escape,
I’m not at all sure I’ve given up
anything. What I value
is found in quiet, music
in sounds of nature, solitude
the nurturing core with a few
good friends for warmth
and connection.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Holiday Plans by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

No need to pay for a holiday
beside a mountain stream,
I live it daily by a valley creek.
Over this morning’s early tea
I watched swallows swoop
against blue sky, two young robins
cavorted in the sycamores
punctuated by the rattle
of a passing kingfisher.
Over coffee a great blue heron
glided past like a winged
ancient creature, a garter snake
slithered over the bank.
All I have to do is show up
and pay attention, there’s no limit
to the pleasures found at home.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

The Old Gent’s Evening by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

With a clip of glass
on mahogany
he sets his after-dinner
port on the table,
replenishes it as needed.
He folds and buckles
creaking legs, drops
into his rump-sprung chair,
settles with dog at his feet
and paper rattling
for the evening.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Book Club by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Ten women, at first unknown
to each other, gather each month
in the rear of the old library.
Shadows haunt the back spaces
behind the racks of books,
the computers are shut and silent.

The women shove two tables together,
settle with their cups and books.
The first round is social
chitchat and by now, two years later,
our stories interweave
and overlap.

One woman clears her throat,
the talk subsides, questions begin.
For an hour the air is filled
with lively discussion, thoughtful
silence. Even, on occasion, tears
and always laughter.

What seems a marvel is the way
the book club has spilled into friendships.
We support one member’s chorus,
attend a play with another, drop off books
and stay for tea, visit at the market,
post office, café.

Our small town book club
is not small to us.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

Tuesday by Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Every Tuesday the ritual unfolded:
the basket of willow rods,
Dad’s white broadcloth shirts
stiff with starch, the coke bottle
with sprinkler head attached,
the careful folding of dampened lengths
rolled into long sausages—
shirts, napkins, tablecloths, blouses,
the full cotton skirts in their gardens
of red and yellow, blue or green checks,
Scottish plaids gathered into a circle
on a tight waistband.

Even on Tuesday in July’s broiling sun,
that female figure bent over the narrow board,
left hand crimping and smoothing the cloth,
right arm in long sweeps of the hot iron, pushing
the tip lightly into the points of collars,
the box of pleats, the hundreds of gathers.

Every Tuesday of my childhood
I watched my mother turn down lunch dates,
tell friends she was busy, dodge my father’s caresses,
put away card games, rub her arthritic arms
with deep sighs. I saw her regard the slim board
with a look I couldn’t decipher
while the hangers of fresh crisp cottons
waited for the next wearing,
the first spill, the curl-up-in-a-chair crease.

By the time I reached twelve, I vowed
I would wear wrinkles and
Tuesday would be a day
made for fun.

About the Author: Patricia Wellingham-Jones

PatriciaWellingham-JonesPatricia Wellingham-Jones is a widely published former psychology researcher and writer/editor. She has a special interest in healing writing, with poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.

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