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
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
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)
! CUIDADO ! — ! MOJADO !
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)
POETRY IS “LITTLE SCRAPS OF WISDOM”
~ 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.
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.