A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2008, vol 4 no 4

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Dawn Bruce


Last Camellia

Morning light streaks through parted curtains waking me. After a two-minute shower, I throw on some clothes, dash out the door only to see my bus fly by. Not a good start.

Clouds grey the air but when I reach Gran's nursing home, sunlight manages to struggle through and colour the world to a warmer hue.

I wheel her around the garden of straggly geraniums and ragged pines, avoiding shadows in an effort to keep to the sunnier spots. Talking is beyond Gran. Her face is slightly lop-sided from a minor stroke but she chuckles away at some inner thought then hums a tuneless melody. I remember my visits on Sunday afternoons to her cottage garden. She had a lovely singing voice and would sing away as she prepared meals for the Sunday family dinner. Sometimes I'd pop in to visit during the week and we'd sit in ancient cane chairs on the stone patio and enjoy sponge cake or iced cupcakes and tea from her delicate china. She always had a string of funny anecdotes to share, mostly about Grandpa and herself in their life together. Or garden stories that seemed like very tall tales to me.

After returning home this evening I get a call from the nursing home. They ask me to come as soon as possible.

Twilight softens Gran's face but her eyes flash with fever and red splotches stain her neck. Her hand reaches out to the bedside table. She caresses the camellia I'd picked from the bush she had given me for my birthday.

I sit by her and eventually she closes her eyes and drifts into a kind of sleep, her breathing rasping in a rhythmic manner until the room slides into a quiet that could be called peace...or emptiness.

withered petals
cover the broken path
late frost

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