Sunday, November 26, 2017

Small Comfort

She cracked the soft boiled egg
and scooped it out, the yoke intact.
This daily feat was accomplised
using a thin, sharp-edged spoon
with a decorative handle.
It never failed
even when her hands shook.
Once it went missing for three days
before she found it peeking out from under the stove.
She was never so happy to find anything
not even her glasses.
Small, pretty, useful, not unlike herself
when she bought it at a church sale fifty years ago.
It hd been her breakfast companion every since.
As her life went away bit by bit
she was aware of clinging to such familiar things.

Her neighbor, a kindly man
kept an eye out for her
noticed when she did not visit her garden
though the days were sunny.
He found her in bed.
It looked like a peaceful death, he told his wife
if a bit peculiar
what wtith that fancy, silver spoon folded in her hands.
But, he supposed
oddities were to be expected with the elderly.

"Did you bring the spoon Home?"
his wife asked.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, November 2, 2017

What Is This Thing Called Love?

The Smitheys
a proper couple
grown round together
often spoke for each other.
Or, conversely
lips pressed, hands folded
Mrs. Smithey
would make a display
of generous silence.
They were well liked.
She for an encompassing smile
he for market tips and jokes.
Happiest apart
they rarely parted.
Until one evening
while telling one of her stories
he choked on a fig and died.
Surprised and angry
she was overwhelmed.
The unfairness of it.
After years of practicing their routine
she was made to start over.
Without him
her smile had no direction
her lips no story to tell
her nerves
no place to land.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Feet tangled in sheets
sun blazing through the window
my sister sleeps beside me
undisturbed by my staring.
She has a new silhouette.
Longer and her hip has rounded.
That curve is taking her away
to places I cannot go.
I slide my hands down
my flat frame of bones and ridges
find comfort in straight lines.
But only for a moment.
Bodies change.
They do not last.
I cannot move past
this first brush with mortality.
I elbow my sister.
"Wake up," I shout.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, June 8, 2017


At six I took possession
of a dresser drawer
given to me by my mother.
Mine, all mine
no sister or brother could touch it.
Nicely folded, I put within
two dresses and a sweater
a stolen marble
The Little Lame Prince
and two dimes tucked under.
I thought of other things to fill the drawer
but never did.
Tidy and space in a family of eight are exotic.
Too well my mother knew this.
Her gift to me of privacy ...
a room of my own.

Bridget Harwell

Monday, June 5, 2017


Never have I learned
how to say good-bye
though I've had years of practice.

People leave so many things behind.
This and that get stored in the heart
until the time arrives for sorting.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, May 18, 2017


No splendor of waterfall
no majesty of mountain
no mystery of gully
no secrets of a dark wood.
You do not take my breath away
stop my heart
sting me with beauty.
Modest landscape
you suit this life of mine.
Easy, slow rise
gentle decline
I would be a green hill
against a blue sky.

Bridget Harwell

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mrs. Miller Has Grown Tired

Books scattered here and there
no longer seem like friends to visit.
Perfume bottles, scarves draped on chairs,
little works of art from foreign places.
Gifts from Mr. Miller's travels
treasured in the moment,
now hardly seen among the clutter.

Unprompted memories,
that's what Mrs. Miller
prefers these days.
Like a mild breeze
they float through her mind.
Lately, she has returned to Gilberry Lane.
Felt again the sticky sun on her face,
her strong legs running,
hair whipping, heart fit to burst.
Then home to bed
and deep,deep sleep
as if dropped into a well.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Face downward,
bent and old,
a woman leans
upon a cane
wends her way
to Macy's door.
What purchase
could be worth this toil?
A fry pan, a nightgown,
a present for a child?
Or words about the weather
and a priceless touch
when money changes hands.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, February 9, 2017

For Elizabeth

Sit down and be quiet
nasty woman
with the big mouth.
Cackling and clucking
across the land,
feathers flying.
Ladies and bitches,
out of the coop!
Flap your wings
and roar.

Bridget Harwell

Thursday, February 2, 2017


You would not know
that they were sisters,
except for the tilt of the head
and the family nose.
One all bones
the other broad and lumpy.
Tired from the procedure,
the frail one waited behind the glass door
nothing inside her but time.
She watched her sister
lurch across the parking lot,
a duffel bag in motion.
Elbows held tight against her ribs
trying to steer herself.
She had a turned-out left foot.
It seemed to say
"Let's go the other way."

Bridget Harwell