Minutes before the youthful cantor
slipped into place on the church altar,
Margaret began her slow triumphant march
down the center aisle of Holy Name.
With nine decades behind her to lean on,
she lifted her bobbing steel gray head
and smiled as if to taunt clumsy Death
who had missed this easy mark once again.
After Mass, amidst plastic tubes and walker
she was encircled by old friends and neighbors.
Her glasses magnified dark skimmed eyes
that peered at the girl you were half a lifetime ago.
Do you remember me, Margaret? you asked,
hoping your keen memories of her farmhouse,
a corncob stove, strong coffee, and hand-sewn doll clothes
could somehow lighten an old woman’s shadows.
Her shaking fingers reached for your freckled hand
and her touch beat like bird wings in your palm.
Of course, she said. You are a special
person from a wonderful time in my life.
Some gray day ahead a message machine or e-mail
will record the widow’s passing, but you hold on
to this gentle Sunday filled with hope and deliverance
and Margaret’s luminous blessing on past days.
Published in Taproot Literary Review, July 2006
MARCUS, Iowa — Margaret R. Willems, 98, of Marcus died Sunday, April 4, 2010, at Heartland Care Center in Marcus.
Services will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Holy Name Catholic Church in Marcus. Burial will be in Holy Name Catholic Cemetery. Visitation will be 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, with a St. Ann’s Guild rosary at 3 p.m., the family present 6 to 8 p.m. and a Scriptural prayer service at 7:30 p.m., at Earnest-Johnson Funeral Home in Marcus. Visitation will resume one hour prior to the service Thursday at the church.