Saturday, 9 July 2016


the long-term care facility,
at first glance, had the customary 
funky gloom, of institutional boredom

but upon closer inspection, 
one’s eyes were drawn to, 
and then, fixed, pleasantly upon
the Lady-At-The-Front-Desk

performing in fuschia
among the flowers 
she decorated her stage with

she chuckled and teasingly chided 
and tossed her enormous earrings about … 
a merry free-spirit, holding 
her audience – living with dementia –

under her spell of warmth and geniality
and lilting, happy words

the walls around her,
that had been painted a muddy orange,
seem to take on a terracotta holiday cast: 
Olé Fiesta!    Adiós Siesta!

as she carried them far, far away
from the emptiness that creeps 
and stifles, where there is infirmity … 
and no joy left in living

note:  posted for Poets United.

 photo:  Fuschia Magic (another photo I had a bit of fun with using the Lunapic photo program) - W. Bourke
© 2016 Wendy Bourke  


  1. Oh the job of this woman must be so difficult, but it sounds as if she handles it with flair. But within those walls one knows that there is very little joy left in living; and I am sure one must wonder sometimes just why! A thought-provoking poem, Wendy.

    1. I struggled with that last line. Originally I had written “and silence”. But, I actually have seen flickers of smiles on the faces of people who appeared to be approaching the final stages – while visiting someone in such an institution – and tried to confer what I believe to be true: that, from time to time, pleasant feelings can be stirred by the sweetness and light of a happy person. Joy: may be an overstatement of those feelings – especially in the final stages. I'm going to think on that one, a bit more.

  2. How I wish there was one like her in every institution - the warmth and kindness and humour makes SUCH a difference to those lonely souls who drift the halls. You make us see her, Wendy.

  3. She seems a most welcome, and probably rare, bloom in that facility--and of many similar. Thank God for people like her. I remember visiting my Grandma in one and you nailed that emptiness. Excellent poem and cool photo.

  4. She sounds like just the right person for that job! You brought her to life for me.

  5. as "a merry free-spirit," she tries to touch every soul captivated in joyless emptiness...i could see her...a heartfelt and thought provoking poem Wendy...

  6. I have met these sweet souls who bring joy, when visiting my mother... Maybe it's not as hard as it sounds.. Maybe it's just about survival... Wonderful poem to focus on her rather than the poor patients.

  7. What a glorious lady she must be to bring some joy and colour into that place...some people just have that kind of spirit that embraces and lifts everyone else...

  8. Wow! That's such a wonderful character brought to life :D
    Beautifully penned.

    Lots of love,

  9. 'The customary funky gloom, of institutional boredom' - made me is distinct and unmistakable isn't it.. and yet this wonderful Lady-At-The-Front-Desk lifts us away..makes it a little bearable..we can only hope there will always be such people - and more importantly people who care enough to allow her to shine..

  10. this is a poem that speaks of contrasts. i think you have chosen the words very carefully. really love the poem and the effort.
    and yes, that's a very lovely and elegant picture. :)

  11. Care homes of course vary and having cheerful surroundings can surely do no harm. We are of course judged by our treatment of those in care especially those that cannot look after themselves. You poem shone a bright light on the situation hopefully brightening the feeling of those resident there.

  12. that opening first impression led into a profound and moving poem

  13. You brought her to life in this lovely poem!

  14. This woman seems to have a flare for adding color when and where needed. I wonder why there isn't more color in these places.

  15. Perhaps purples are the colors of compassion--at least for the lady at the front desk--what a wonderful piece Wendy--

  16. Oh I want to be where she is a fuchsia life to the fullest...never any boredom there!

  17. as she carried them far, far away
    from the emptiness that creeps

    How wonderful to have such a person who understands the woes faced by the afflicted aged folks


  18. She is most definitely the right person for the job...bless her.

    I wish you a wonderful start to the week :)

  19. I got to meet people like this when my mother and mother-in-law were in a nursing home. They were like sunshine. I am grateful for them. Love the picture and your words.

  20. I think we need more "merry free spirits" like this lady! Thanks for the bright, relatable read.