Updated date:


a battered dishpan

perhaps a half century old
with well-chewed gum filling wear-holes
before running water entered her house
with dishwasher and
washing machine lightening her load
of retirement living:
with still a garden to cultivate,
flowers to tend,
and a semi-invalid husband
to nurse until death parted them

their children, scattered about two states
came home, two, closer, more,
one, farther away, less
until, husband of four-plus decades,
was gone,
and house sold--
moving from home of daughter
to home of son,
her possessions shrinking
with eyesight failing and hearing almost gone
her life nearing its end,
she divided her remaining life’s treasures--
small tokens--all that was left--
crochet from her mother,
pieces of jewelry and the like from dresser drawers,
a few flowers, seeds, and garden herbs,
and bowls, a skillet, and a dishpan from kitchen cabinets
song after all cooking had ceased, needed no more
by those gnarled hands

the battered dishpan now stands
with a rock in its middle,
a weight to steady its rest upon a tree cutting
now, a birdbath and squirrel drinking stop

what more could animals ask of someone now gone
than cooling water in blazing summer heat
what more could we be grateful for
than having a stopping place for birds and squirrels
outside our back porch
in these tennessee hills


John Murphree (author) from Tennessee on August 08, 2018:

Thank you. . We keep looking for a use for the dishpan, but have found none. We believe that my mother would approve of any use that we would find for it.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on August 03, 2018:

What lovely words you've used to wrap around your thoughts in this poignant poem.

Related Articles