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


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