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Caregiving Poems # 1-10

My June poems are below. They are responses to my current duties tending to my mother who must wear a cervical collar after tripping on a sidewalk, being hospitalized, experiencing an MRI, learning to use a walker, and returning to her apartment near Boston, MA.

.
Caregiving Poem #1 (1 June 2012)
.
MONITORS
.
Wednesday I stood vigilant
over dots and half-dashes
in full red.
Teams of nurses worked round-the-clock
to leave no traces
of balm or ill.
.
But last night I dreamed of a white-sashed
window fading into
a white wall.
Invisible bandage, stiffening.
.
.
Caregiving Poem #2 (2 June 2012)
.
AFTER HER MRI
.
She is fierce as she tells me about
“the dungeon” —
its bed of stones
underwater tortures
infernal voices.
.
In her version there’s no
self-pity or
self-mercy.
.
Her upper world with me —
what version of it did she leave inside
that dungeon, charred
upon its ceiling?
.
.
Caregiving Poem #3 (3 June 2012)
.
ILLEGAL IN MASSACHUSETTS
.
I wake startled — what’s that trouble
I hear? Pistols? Wires sizzling?
.
I check a clock (2:30am) and hurry to a window.
.
Flashes, flickers
above the trees — the red & white microbeads
of fire crackers!
.
My mother doesn’t rouse.
She’s been ordered to sleep
on her back
between two pillows.
.
2:31am.
I’m a child again, smiling, eyes widening
at the magic show
any upright adult would disallow.
.
Caregiving Poem #4 (4 June 2012)
.
ROUTINES
.
My heart’s outta shape
for this
so
while my mother rehearses her new routines
at the bathroom sink, toilet, tub
I adapt old ones:
on her couch I do my sit-ups;
on her rug, my push-ups;
in her kitchen, my lunges from fridge to window.
.
When my mother calls from the next room
for my assistance,
I take my pulse,
cool myself down, down within
normal.
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 5 (5 June 2012)
.
SECOND OPINIONS
.
Her dentures
left marks
on the x-ray image.
(opinion of hospital)
.
**
.
She doesn’t wear any dentures.
(opinion of her daughters)
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 6 (6 June 2012)
.
CONJUGAL VISIT
.
On my one day of respite
I drive home to Frank for an afternoon.
And then for fajitas
at Salsa Latina.
.
After 24 years of marriage,
he gets to taste the hot sauce
before
the dinner date.
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 7 (7 June 2012)
.
IN THE DOCTOR’S WAITING ROOM
.
There’s a fish tank as huge as a sarcophagus.
.
As I wait for my mother, I diagnose
pathologies.
.
That skittish sunfish slapping against the glass:
Claustrophobia.
.
The broad-backed bug-eyed giant:
Goiter.
.
That dazed and aimless exotica:
Amnesia.
.
Below fish, those putrid-pink perforated
coral, shells, and scallops:
Osteoporosis.
.
And at bottom — multicolored chips
and pebbles as numerous as all the pills,
capsules, gel-caps, and tablets I’ll need
for all my decades of dementia.
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 8 (8 June 2012)
.
HELMET of STORIES
.
Her head on the mattress
is as small as a squire’s.
By instinct I lean over
to kiss the brow, but
by reflex she interrupts.
“Did I ever tell you
about that time when
I was teaching in Voorheesville and…”
A distant land,
her distant past which she defends
with a youth’s allegiance.
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 9 (9 June 2012)
.
STEPS FOR GENTLY REMOVING A SOCK
FROM YOUR MOTHER’S AGING FOOT
.
Step One.
Fold over (approximately 2 inches) the sock’s top hem.
The result is a new, lower top hem.
.
Step Two.
Repeat Step One.
.
Step Three.
With the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, pinch the top hem near the sock’s heel.
(CAUTION: Do not pinch the mother’s heel.)
.
Step Four.
With the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, pinch the sock’s toe.
(CAUTION: Do not pinch the mother’s toe.)
.
Step Five.
Using both hands, slide off the sock with one slow, smooth motion.
.
Step Six.
Marvel at the likenesses of your mother’s aging
naked foot
to your own.
.
Step Seven.
Repeat Step Six.
.
.
Caregiving Poem # 10 (10 June 2012)
.
BECAUSE I MISS MY CAT…
.
…the eight amber pill bottles
soaking in an orange bowl,
empty and capless and label-less,
shorn of all but white streaks
of sticky glue,
look to me like a litter
of marmalade kittens
not yet born,
bobbing in their mother’s womb.
.

END

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. Dear Therese;
    I am in AZ teaching Polyphonic Calligraphy.(until June 19th)
    Your care-taker poems sound like my February caring for my friend in Newport: Bob, 89 years old, and never in hospital or seeing a doctor.
    I love the amber pills looking like cat, and the diagnosed fish in the tank. Also appreciated is the steps to remove the sock. I remember the therapy after hip replacements.
    Your perceptions are so delicate, and caring. Made me smile.
    Jeanne Poland

    Like

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