the wax paper

Waiting for Wings    


Most days

         chair propped against a wall in the nursing home, the old lady stares

through the window at the winter pansies, past a sundial where caterpillars sleep 

in chrysalids.  Watches leaf piles shrivel and disappear under fat snowflakes. 

A placid smile curls her lips        quiet hands folded. 



she wears a best dress.  Enjoys how it drapes over knees, becomes 

swirls of shiny purple pools in lamplight.   Listens to the murmur

of her daughter’s voice, stories of sea voyages for English war brides or homemade 

wine at Christmas.   Glances at silk flowers, black frames, and shadow boxes 

full of trophies that crowd the bed.              So many photos!

Beside the door, just where sunlight falls, hangs a German shepherd poster. His eyes 

are raised to her, a young woman in a yellow blouse whose hand                 folds into his hair.


After a while

               she pulls on a sweater, lies down.   Turns

on her side to gaze at daffodils that sway and shiver as a petal lets go—drifts away.

Now family gather to press the mattress, bend to kiss her cheek, her eyelids.

Now family gather to press the mattress, bend to kiss her cheek,      her eyelids.

Gentle faces share wistful smiles when their fingers             fold over hers. 


By and by

     garden breezes creep through the open window, freshen the room. 

Sunshine freckles young shoots of summer daisies, flickers over smooth walls.  Only

a sliver of paper remains beside the door.   A butterfly’s shadow flutters 

across open privacy curtains, alights on the windowsill                 folds yellow wings.

Margaret Rutley is a retired braille transcriber. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines and anthologies such as The Prairie Journal, Island Writer, and The Sacred in Contemporary Haiku. Her concrete poetry can be found at She is a member of Haiku Canada, the Haiku Society of America and the Heron’s Quill poetry group.