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Caregiving Poems # 11-15

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 # 11 (drafted June 11 to 15)

I say a few words of Spanish
to the men who trim bushes that edge
my mother’s unit.
With all due regard
they smile & nod, resume
their labors.
In much the same way my mother
nods & smiles
as soon as I mention polite
alternatives — affordable housing,
Meals-on-Wheels, Sunday visitors.
At night in her chair she bows head
and whispers to the pink bead
of her rosary — Ave Maria
her old mother tongue
I fail to understand.
Caregiving Poem # 12 (drafted June 11 to 15)
Comes a softer afternoon she wants to open
all windows.
Comes a day she’s limber enough
to walk unaided from bed to chair,
chatter straight through nap hour.
She tells stories about her beau,
my father before I knew him —
his dandy days at Parson’s in New York City,
her green gown that caught his eye.
Comes a moment she yearns to share
a common memory:
……………………………that day in 1981
when her oldest daughter donned
a graduation gown
not six weeks past
her husband’s death.
Comes as always the relapse
of my silence. Why
is her daughter
still not ready to relieve?
Caregiving Poem # 13 (drafted June 11 to 15)
O.T. and P.T.
Our agency gals might well have been Nebraska-
born and bred, their arms so long and prairie-strong.
They take kindly to my Mom, make allowances
for her child-sized frame. Like two summer band
baton captains, they balance and twirl the legs
of aluminum walkers, shower seats, rubber-tipped canes.
They tinker briskly for height, weight, stance, range.
Thus bedazzled, my mother sees little merit
in the star-studded team I watch on her TV,
Oklahoma fellers taller than her ceiling, passing balls
behind their backs, sprinting for alley-oops,
somehow landing flat on their enormous feet.
Caregiving Poem # 14 (drafted June 11 to 15)
Appeasing her fears, my secret catchphrase
is: “Caution! — Wet!”
Water, her nemesis.
Anything slippery, chilly, soggy, germ-iferous.
Tiles, towel racks, doorknobs, sponges, sweat socks.
I won’t tell her about my secret pleasure
at her kitchen window — watching the dawn’s
lawn sprinklers spray
in tandem, soaking every single blade of grass.
Rainbows arcing above the sewer hatch.
Caregiving Poem # 15 (drafted June 11 to 15)
~ Robert Frost
I must search my mother’s rooms
to pilfer old keys
and key signatures on old certificates:
Lawyer A, Agent B, Bureaucrat C.
My assignment, collate and label
pettinesses of The Commonwealth.
While at it I seek evidence of
poems or Poetry.  I find plenty
in countless slips of paper scattered across
dressers, desks, counters, tables —
“Lest-Ye-Forget” notes, scribbled.
Mail out birthday cards.
Call cousin.
Show grandsons a funny clipping.
Donate to the clergy fund.
Tell Frank, “I do thank you!”
Visit the sick and homebound.
Return all borrowed books on time.

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

2 responses »

  1. Ah Therese!
    Love the symmetry in the Groundskeepers
    Is the word “relieve” or “relive” in Recovery?
    Love the scale of O.T. and P.T. Recall each detail in Rehab.
    #14 taught me “nemesis”
    Finally, enjoyed the way the lists whisper out to 3 dingbats all alone.
    As you can see from my posting today on my blog, I’m a little lonely today and having your poems in my unit here in AZ rings relief . It’s like the sprinkler in 105 degree heat.
    Jeanne Poland


  2. For “relieve”, I was thinking that the word both meant not wanting the self to feel relief or have the mother have relief from the past, but also as a play on “re-leave”, referring to deaths and departures.

    The OT and PTs are so strongly described and the poem is so vivid and loud and strong. They could all be on the basketball court together.


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