I can see through her sliding glass door

     every day as I walk my dog early,

          before the morning light 

               has cast its hopeful ray

                    onto a single blade of grass.

The old woman sits in the same place

     in her living room, a tattered cloth 

          recliner chair with its dirty off-white 

               brocade pattern, and an obese yellow cat 

                    that is always asleep on her lap.

An aluminum walker waits at her knees. 

     A plain wooden cane leans on the chair, 

          both probably part of an intricate 

               network of aids needed 

                    to get herself into a standing position.

Her hands are knots huddled 

     together on pink rosary beads.

          Crooked, swollen fingers 

               take in one bead at a time 

                    with a cadence set by lips 

once young, plump, and dumb,

     but now as thin and sharp 

          as albatross wings coming in 

               for a landing on a buoy

                    in the middle of the ocean. 

I’ve never seen or heard her up close, 

     but I don’t think she’s praying for herself.

          The whole thing is too disciplined,

               too focused, too entrenched a duty.

It’s an act of war, an act of love.

     It’s a shield for the world 

          and the kids and grandkids 

               that live in it. A shield for the guy 

                    who delivers her meals,

                         and the beautician who also does toenails.

It’s a shield for that lady and her ugly dog 

     who stop on the sidewalk 

          by the lilac bush every morning, 

               and watch through the glass door.

Lyndi Waters is the author of “Butcher Shop of Wild Forgiveness: Poems.” Her poetry has been published in literary magazines and anthologies including Heart of Flesh Literary Magazine, Spirit Fire Review, Agape Review, and Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press, 2016.) She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and winner of the Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award, the Eugene V. Shea National Poetry Contest, and other honors. Lyndi lives and writes in Kaycee, Wyoming.