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End-Cycle: poems about caregiving

Patricia Wellingham-Jones, 2007
Winner of Palabra Productions Chapbook Contest, 2006
PWJ Publishing
PO Box 238
Tehama, CA, 96090 USA
Paper / 33 pgs / $8.00US

How is a Man's Life Measured?
A review of Patricia Wellingham-Jones'
                End-Cycle: poems about caregiving


                "Big red bow*

                on your new walker
                a different Christmas."

        When I was asked to review the chapbook, End-Cycle, I had never read, nor heard of, Patricia Wellingham-Jones; but that fact speaks only of my short-comings, and says nothing about the depth of talent found within her thirty-one "poems about caregiving" memorialized.

        How can one find solace during any painful journey of the heart, of the mind, of another? Where is the beauty in such travail, the laughter, the art? Beauty is found "bent over the bed-rails / from her six-foot height," in a selfless attendant sharing love for her husband with a cat named Smudge. Roy's laughter, now quiet as "an ant fart," is remembered, echoed in her own. And what of the art? Patricia's pen, filled with growing loss, empties onto the pages, and art is created. Frightful, touching, introspective art.

                "I want you
                to remain part
                of our decision making.
                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                I realize my effort
                to keep you involved
                is one more
                small cruelty."

        Her words paint imagery worthy of the Louvre's eye— of a man, a last defender of a battlefield, surrounded by impending defeat.

                "When you look scared about the men
                surrounding you in your room
                        I'm thankful you're in your own home
                        safe and alone in your room"

        I wanted to be holding Patricia's hand as I read. Small comfort passing; but still, comfort.

                "When you praise me and the other two women
                taking good care of you
                        I'm thankful you know you're in good hands
                        though all of those women are me"

        We, all, are living an end-cycle, each of us a "short little phrase." But together, we share the commonalities of love given and received, and it is only through the quality of time spent sharing, that the quantity is revealed. This is the true measure of a man's life.

                "A stranger glides in
                    peers through your staring eyes
                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                I learn to let the stranger borrow
                    your walker     body     mind
                until he abruptly disappears
                    eyelids flutter
                and you return"

        Patricia Wellingham-Jones' End-Cycle falls onto your body like pieces of the moon, flexes and feathers around your spirit, and gently bears you away.

                "The left hand
                rises to your lips
                extends cupped as if holding a chalice
                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                Your hands
                speak a dream language
                your tongue and ear
                no longer master"

        Thank you Patricia; thank you for sharing Roy.

                                                                                    By Simon Lloyd Dunbar

Simon Lloyd Dunbar lives beside an old cemetery in Northern Ontario, with his ferret and twelve hunting dogs. The long, cold winters and peaceful solitude provide ample opportunity for reflective inspiration. He's an avid reader and writer of science fiction and horror.

Simon is a regular contributor to and occasional reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye.

*Big Red Bow is reprinted with permission in its entirety from End Cycle: poems about caregiving, which also first appeared in Brevities. Lines and partial lines are quoted from various poems in the collection, some being What I Want, Thankful, A Stranger Visits, and Dream Language.

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