The Waiting


The Waiting



The way she looks at me from her pillow

when she unfurls from sleep each dawn

a pale bud just come into this world.


The way I feel when she looks at me like that.

The way I don’t want to leave her, my fragile mother,

alone in a room made of bed, chair and nightstand.


How its barren beauty fits her, survives the emptiness

informing both journey and destination

essential glue to mend flaws fractured through time.


Custodian of what remains, I stand watch—empty

drawers, discard bits of broken rosaries, worn out prayer cards

fingered at 4 am before she rose to another day of toil


like her faded flannel gown and homemade quilt

they reveal what gave her comfort, what flowered her values

what’s left of a life lived for others, one that holds no value today.


Then, always, the conflicted hour, waiting for her overnight aide,

the preoccupied drive home through sheets of rain, sleet steeling

my spine upright as deer leap from a roadside ditch.


The way I know my husband will greet me

from the kitchen sink, will search my face, his eyes liquid as

twin pools of spinach soup gone cold on the table.


The way he’ll cross the room, hug my drenched shoulders

in silence, ask no questions of me or her.

The way he’ll accept nothing for an answer

nothing and everything.



Bernadine Lortis


Along with reading, gardening, and dabbling in watercolor, Bernadine (Bernie) has been writing secretly and sporadically for years but began submitting in 2016 when family responsibilities lessened. Since then, fiction, creative nonfiction and over 25 poems have been published in online journals and print anthologies including Ariel Chart, Persimmon Tree, Mused-Bella Online, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Silver Birch Press, Millers Pond, Poetry Super Highway, Cosmo Funnel, Every Writer's Resource, Martin Lake Poetry, Haiku Universe and Lost Sparrow Press. She credits love of and respect for nature to growing up on a farm in S.W. Minnesota on the prairies of the Buffalo Ridge. With degrees in Interior Design, Adult and Elementary Education and Real Estate licensure, after a short time in San Francisco and Iowa she settled in St. Paul, MN, with her husband near their daughter.



  1. I can see grandma...oh, the prayer cards! Thank you for putting this image into words.

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