I’m a little wet
from helping her  shower,
but  I’m gaunt and absorb
little.
I shake a bit
before I bend over.
She already has a towel.
I’m there for two hours to help with
personal care:

make sure she brushes her teeth,
rinses,
wipes all the way,
remind her it’s Tuesday,
7 pm,
tomorrow is Wednesday.
After drying her thigh ,
I hand her a comb,
get the hemorrhoid cream ready.
While she finds her part,
I rub honeydew lotion all over the backs of
her legs.
She’s eighty-one and silk
and still has
certain preferences.
Her veins are tucked
far underneath her flesh:
invisible with a firm, earned
elasticity,
covered by something smooth..

You must have taken good care of yourself.

I enjoyed this ritual.
I could feel years of tall glasses of water
running through her veins
tightening the gaps that so many of us have.
Crackers with avocado instead of Nutella,
early retirement on well-plushed
pillows,
eight hours of rest and then
rising gratefully,
slippers,
watching the dawn cut the sky.
Flossing,
pausing,,
filing nails.
Arterial tranquility,
days worth spending,
assets,
responsible parables,
a mother who taught her how to bake bread,
crack eggs & iron
everything.
I placed one set of gloves in the waste bin.
 She contemplated & said:

I like your dark eyes.

I put one hand on her hip to
steady.
I was pacing the harbor with a flask
and a plan to
really do it
this time,
chasing a  hoard of sycophantic worker bees
to show me what their insides look like.
My sleep evenings ended in the bottom of
self-sadism,
everyone,
sprinkles of tobacco on the seat,
thirsty kidneys,
a camouflaged abuse that taught me how to
cower
at words,
mine vs. everyone’s.
My eyelashes hurt.
My fingers feel tired
like spent lives.
I have a few more tries
but I’m still a dark, creeping
sky.

I’m still so full of nights.

“dark eyes”

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