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May 22, 2013 | 6 comments

Bessie Arrowood’s Circle of Life

by Karen Paul Holmes

twittering machine

“Twittering Machine,” by Paul Klee, 1922.

Circumambulation: The act of walking around
something in a circle, especially for a ritual purpose

There she goes again, spinning
her wheelchair ’round the nursing home.
Two years, five thousand laps. So far.
With God’s help, she says, I’ll reach
eight thousand by this time next year

Politely, the small town Sentinel
doesn’t give Bessie’s age nor why
she entered the home six years ago.
In her picture, a cannula helps her breathe,
yet she supplies her own determined air.

Neither wind, nor rain, nor oxygen tank
stops Bessie from what she calls her project
I call it her prayer, her lifesaver.
More boomerang than arrow,
Bessie completes herself with each round.

Published 22 May 2013

Karen Paul Holmes’s poetry credits include Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Main Street Rag, Caesura, and The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Poems have also appeared in anthologies such as American Society: What Poets See (FutureCycle Press), and the Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia (Texas Review Press). In 2012, she received an Elizabeth George Foundation emerging writer grant for poetry.


  1. A tidy, very well-crafted poem.

  2. Thumbs up, Karen! I imagine that Bessie would have agreed with your poem.

  3. “Circumambulation, the act of walking around something…” has been and will always be one of my favorites. Congratulations to Karen.

  4. That is really well crafted poem. Thank you for posting it on a blog.

  5. Karen, this is one of the first of your poems that I fell in love with and it is still one of my favorites. Congratulations.

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