(Encounter in a nursing home.)
She stalks the place daily, twisted and strained,
propped by a cane to steady her stride.
And as she pokes the floor of antiseptic halls,
a flash of fantasy transforms that staff
into the foil that once served her worth when
fencing was the fire that warmed her soul.
She spoke often of past prowess,
how she reveled in the sweat of the bout
and basked in the glow of the crown.
Lately, she speaks more of her present fight
where engagement gives no pleasure and
victory seems futile and vain.
The practiced warrior stopped me that day,
probing for sympathy, attacking with woes—
“Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
I entered the fray and parried with the reminder
that all around her people were bleeding. In fact,
Jesus himself was nailed to a tree.
With sparks in her eyes, again the proud champion,
she raised her figure, bestowing on self
permission to be other than perfect, as
she lunged with words that sliced like steel.
“Well, Sir, I’m no Jesus,” she spat, bold
as the shadow that darkens her door.
© 2000 Dennis Ference