Memory Care Unit

Wikipedia photo

Wikipedia photo

Words don’t mean much here.
Take Ida, who is excited to hear:
there is a phone call for her!

She turns to the window
to pick up her glasses.
The message is repeated,
a phone call for you Ida,
and she is excited to hear:
there is a phone call for her!

Allen speaks in Russian,
Jim answers in Greek,
the conversation pleasing
to both partners, who nod and laugh.
The old, mostly women,
spoon mashed potatoes and stare,
or talk randomly . . . I want . . . honey . . .
oh my . . . pillow . . . pretty horses . . .
nice . . . pudding . . . words strung
randomly like disrupted DNA.

My mother greets me with a rippling giggle.
Inked on her parchment palm the name
of her new man, her sweet guy.
She curls her fingers into a fist so
she can hold on to him. We walk
the path behind the building admiring
the child—my grandson, her great—
and she wonders if it was hard for me
to give birth to him. Not at all, I say,
which, I reason, is true in the most literal way.

I won’t tire her with irrelevance; after all,
we don’t rebuke the tulip when its petals fall.
I’ve given up on words. We sit together,
her head on my shoulder, my cheek resting
on her hair, and let the sun set.

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