Journal Logo

FEATURES: Art of Nursing


Flannery, Maureen Tolman RN

Author Information
AJN, American Journal of Nursing: July 2005 - Volume 105 - Issue 7 - p 69
  • Free

The oldest of seven, born steady despite

dreams dormant behind his eyes, he was

an iron-fast anchor that kept the family from drifting.

Now his fingers worry the air as if some message written there

might be grabbed before it floats away on particles of dust.

The hand hanging flaps and flails like a brookie in a creel.

His pedal foot wafts like a loose wheel about to spin off

and go rolling downhill. If illness is metaphor,

what is the meaning behind my father’s shimmy

as if some limb or appendage wanted to dance

while the rest of him decided to sit this one out?

A jumping bean soul squashed in the pocket of a stable life.

Perhaps forty years of a questionable marriage gave him this tremulous

way of being, as if some old indecision in the cells of his muscles

has them quivering all these years after the fact of that rash proposal.

That time of steadfast standing required such force of will

that wavering worked itself down into sinew of his unbent frame.

While he stood at attention, an independent foot inside the shoe

learned to tap of its own accord. This agitation will wash him

clean as a creek-scrubbed garment hung to bleach in the sun,

though he may quake the earth when it opens to take him back.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved.