My Brother’s Petaluma Garden

…the long habit of living indisposeth us for dying…

Sir Thomas Browne

Valiant as a warrior following the code of Bushido

you’re imprisoned at home as if under house arrest,

body immobile, deadened legs shuffle cautiously

like an unseeing somnambulist.

Clinging to a walker you trudge along to a garden

aglow with shafts of sunlight streaming down

from the Sierra foothills Coastal Miwok Indians

call valley of little hills. Outdoor speakers play

HarryPatch’s bamboo marimba and melodeon tunes

like Ring Around the Moon.

Standing like Captain Bligh on steps of a deck, your

mutinous legs, once as strong as two oak mizzen masts

wait for a lending hand by your first mate.

Like a gentleman farmer you delight in seeing each plant

pruned and watered in a horticultural objet d’art.

Tremulous hands that skillfully relieved toothaches

and reshaped mouths of children now discover the present,

feeling the texture of flowers, viewing leaves of golden bronze

and shades of scarlet red. Absorbed by moving clouds,

you smile, listening to the soft twitter of finches, chatter

of wrens and grackles and the meowing of a neighbor’s cat.

Butterflies and hummingbirds hover over an herbarium

of sage, rosemary and oregano; Meyer lemons, so unsour

you can savor them right off the tree; figs as scrumptious

as those I once tasted in an Istanbul bazaar; avocados

waiting to be mashed into guacamole that will dance

in your mouth without Mariachis or castanets.

It’s a botanical bounty of perfumed wildflowers,

a kaleidoscope of colors as lush as the ancient

garden at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates.

The sight and scent of pink sapphire roses, mimosa

and hydrangeas nourish your soul.

I often dream we’re hiking up the Algonquin trail

as we used to do in the dead of winter slogging along

in four feet of snow. It was so hard to keep up with you then.

Bonded by blood of my blood, brotherly love endures.

Now I wish I could give you my legs just to see you hike on ahead.