Nazareth House

by Jane Lovell

There were no constants, those first months:
no voice, no waft of soft-worn cotton,
no rapt embrace, no looming shapes
with which to anchor my position
against sunlight, time.

No memory of that other place:
a quiet room, a different quality of light,
those drifts of silence settling into hours.

Perhaps I grew strong on the punctuality of feeding,
the silhouette that cut across the window,
the arm that crooked the length of me,
the few short seconds I could hold a gaze
before it drifted.

At Nazareth House, across a perfect lawn,
the sunlight flies to sharpen every petal of the dahlias,
the sprawling rhododendron.
There are no gates.
Behind the sixties windows, nuns still tend the helpless
and abandoned, swish through corridors
with feeding cups and folded linen,
now to tend the fading elderly
unwinding into ghosts against the TV blare.

The search ends here. I do not need to go inside:
I have my constants, bloodlines, stretching out
before me.
Behind me, only white skies, clean light
and, winnowing the air like larks,
the thinnest threads of chance.