I Push Her Wheelchair in the City of My Childhood by Marg Walker

We bump across the lawn from the parking lot
to the entrance of the public gardens where
passing the feathered grasses and sentinel
chrysanthemums my mother comes face to face
with the puzzle of lingering autumn.

Almost Thanksgiving and she didn’t want to come –
too cold, too much trouble – but now, sun struck,
blanket tucked around her, she murmurs “oh” and “oh”
at the profusion of purples, golds, lush greens
beyond all reason still thriving. Why so much, God?

Begonia, impatiens, verbena.
Common zinnias like she planted after the war.
She studies each sign. “Coleus,” I read aloud
and pause. My sister’s favorite. “Cathy was just here,”
my mother guesses, though she was not.

I push again, her small weight heavy in the chair,
the wheels stubborn on the crinkled path. Soon
none of us will return to the city of our childhood.
For now, we are guests in the patient gardens.
Hibiscus, hydrangea, a triumph of wild rose.

My mother moves her lips, rummaging
for the words “annual,” “perennial,”
though she never could keep them straight.
“What lasts?” she settles for asking
but I don’t know how to answer.


Marg is a life long writer and student of poetry who is especially drawn to lyrical poems with a strong story to tell. Her work has appeared in The Minnesota Monthly, Wilderness House Literary Review, Page and Spine, ArtWord Quarterly, and Cairns Art Journal.

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