Posts tagged "aging"
The Red Cane

The Red Cane

I’m in a different period now. Different from the time I wore that striped bikini and frequented the hot springs bubbling greenly out of rock just inside Yellowstone Park. I would undress beside the van. In front of God and bighorn sheep, we used to say. Different from the time four girlfriends with their bikes...
A Legacy of Falling

A Legacy of Falling

In the last few months of her life, when she could no longer get out of bed without falling, my mother told her nighttime caretaker that she had contemplated throwing herself from the subway platform into an oncoming train. The confession didn’t surprise me, just the scenario. I recalled that on a visit to her...
There Will Be Falling

There Will Be Falling

In my dreams, I catch her before she falls, the first fall in her apartment down the road from our house, when I’m a thousand miles away at a residency and have to rush home on the desert freeway, smoking a hundred Kools on the way. The second fall on the sidewalk in front of...
Dance Me to the End

Dance Me to the End

Four o’clock on a Friday afternoon. My grandmother slumps against the arm of the sofa, eyes half-closed, sinking down, down, down. The tips of her fingers graze the floor, and she moves them about, grasping at some hidden thing she keeps secret. Today is no different. She has just turned ninety. The dementia, the vision...
Neighborhood Walk, Halloween Week

Neighborhood Walk, Halloween Week

From her seat on the red wheelchair, Mother points There, and now There, to the plastic gravestones haunting the perfectly edged lawns, and—Look there, she calls as we pass a skeleton fastened to a child’s tree swing as if waiting for a grown-up to send it sailing. Nearby, it’s recess time on the Catholic school...
Twofold

Twofold

“The world is twofold for man in accordance with his twofold attitude.” — Martin Buber, from I and Thou One thing my grandfather did when he was alive: he wrote commentaries on the Bible. Another thing he did was fall asleep sitting up in a chair. Sometimes these two activities would blur and blend, and,...
Solving for X

Solving for X

She’s never been good at word problems. She remembers hours of agony at the kitchen table, her father trying to help her wrench the variables of time, speed, and distance into manageable equations. “A freight train left San Diego and traveled east at an average speed of 28 mph. A diesel train left one hour...
Survival

Survival

Imperceptibly, the white pine has grown so tall no one can see what’s happening up there. Dirt has mounded at its base, the underside asserting itself: a bulge of the invisible. You can see the tree from far down the lake. It was planted ninety years ago by my father and his brother. They put...
Forgetting

Forgetting

You know how you find yourself in the kitchen and you can’t remember what you’re doing there so maybe you put your hands on the cold sink and look out the window but it doesn’t help? What works is to go back to the living room, sit down again on the chair you got up...
The Birthday Place

The Birthday Place

“You know, Mother, today is my birthday.” I have reported this three times in the past hour. Across the room, on the sofa where she leans beside my father, Mother smiles. “That’s wonderful, dear.” The dear is generic, a term she employs when she forgets who I am. “And where is your birthday place?” “You...
Math Lesson

Math Lesson

In the box of unsent cards my parents have kept to mark a family’s life, I find “Congratulations on Your New Addition!” Chosen no doubt for the next child who would arrive, the next name to stitch onto the quilt that hangs on the wall above my father’s chair, thirty-three names now, grandchildren and great-,...
Xenia

Xenia

They brought food on Tuesdays because my mother’s chemotherapy happened on Mondays. Later, when my mother was regularly hospitalized, they rang the bell on Thursdays too. Their hands balanced hot lasagna, cold vegetables, yeasty bread that made bright steam in the dark winter air. They brought pork roast, beef roast, squash, potatoes. They brought their...
The Lunch Lady and Her Three-Headed Dogs

The Lunch Lady and Her Three-Headed Dogs

I raise my arm to write on the chalkboard, and the skin draped over bone and muscle swings in contrapuntal melody. I am ashamed to be caught in the act of living in skin. I hope my students are not hypnotized by the distracting motion. I hope no one sees this hammock of flesh and...
Holy

Holy

My mother worries about my soul. She tells me so at her kitchen table, 6 a.m. We’re making nut-roll, even though it’s not a holiday, nothing to celebrate. My mother believes bread rises only in the morning. I’m not good with mornings. Last night I stayed up late, reading, worrying. “Ruining your eyes,” my mother...
Naked

Naked

Grandma owned a swimsuit, but she never wore it. She owned other things too, jeans and dresses two sizes small, hanging with tags attached in anticipation of the day they would fit. She wore instead lots of shapeless denim, spent whole days in her dressing gown, loose terry cloth hiding folds of soft stomach. Tonight,...
New Year’s Day 2016

New Year’s Day 2016

Feeling better because I looked up the verb to watch in the dictionary and its root is to awaken which isn’t sinister and since I was trying to figure out why it creeps me out so much that an old boyfriend is watching Latvian girls on his computer who do what he asks and answer all...
Some Childhood Dreams Really Do Come True

Some Childhood Dreams Really Do Come True

Then I wanted to be a mermaid. But first, I needed the tits and the hair. Hair long enough that it fell in naked curves down my naked chest while I lounged on a rock, luring sailors with my song. Now I have tits and hair down to my ass. You’re probably expecting me to...
Advance Directive to my Future Roommate at a Yet-to-be-Named Care Facility

Advance Directive to my Future Roommate at a Yet-to-be-Named Care Facility

For it will come to pass at some appointed hour, that you will sense from behind the pulled curtain of the room we share an agitation of the air, a perturbation of the light, and then a trickle of language, soft babbling you might first guess vaguely Pentecostal, until, breaking forth into raucous splendor, my...