Timothy Kelly




The stroke has left her listing
left, her left limbs lagging, and
we are trying to walk ten short
feet without her walker, using
an aluminum quad cane instead,
a new concept, and directing
her straight into a mirror so she
can appreciate the asymmetries
of her gait, and be cued to look
ahead instead of irremediably
at the floor. She remembers
nothing since the firemen and
the ambulance; a month lost
so far, though her speech and
vision are mercifully unaffected
by her peculiar, sequestered,
arguably lucky, anatomically,
bleed. At the mirror, she looks
at me standing behind her,
my right hand wrapped in her
belt. I say Bend your left knee,
Mrs. Davis, and she says, left
eyelid drooping, left side of her
mouth skewing down, You
wouldn’t know it now, but I
was beautiful once. Men came
from Fort Lewis Sundays when
I was 17 to watch me swan out
of First Baptist. She laughs and
I laugh, then she tears up, and I
say Can you bend your left knee,
Mrs. Beautiful? and she says
You about useless, boy. And
I say Yes, ma’am. True truth.
But happiness is fitful, don’t you
find? A flitting wren in a lilac
glides down, lights on your knee.
The left. This. Can you bend it?


Timothy Kelly holds Master’s Degrees in Physical Therapy from the University of Washington, and in Fine Arts/Creative Writing from Boston University. Since 1982, he’s worked in Olympia, WA as a Physical Therapist. He’s published three collections of poetry: Articulation, published by Lynx House Press, won the King County Arts Commission Publication Award in 1992; Stronger, from Oberlin College Press, won the 1999 Field Poetry Prize; and The Extremities, published by Oberlin College Press in 2008. Toccata and Fugue, published by Floating Bridge Press, won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award in 2005.

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  1. Pingback: Kathleen Flenniken Reflects on Her First Months as Our State’s Poet Laureate « Spark: The Online Magazine of Humanities Washington

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