If I met you in the elevator:
crippled, feeble,
crawling with injustices
we can’t really ponder:
(just know they are there)
pock marks scattered over sallow skin,
twenty year old sweater with the buttons
lined up at the wrong places,
a homeostasis that smells a lot like fading idealism,
peppermint
(and mostly)
languid moments.
Fingers trembling to hit “3,”
nails yellow from nicotine stains and a budding
halitosis from a lifetime of poor nutritious
decision making,
and you can’t feel the indigestion
yet.
You’ll know me by my flowered scarf
wrapped half-heartedly around my perm,
my barely there hair.

I ask you how your day is going;
were the parts of it that you can remember
going well?
Smile to show a charcoal-whitened set of falsies
set incorrectly so I cluck when I talk
(only a little now & then)
like the annoying sound of suckling candy,
peppermint in fact,
that you couldn’t stand
when I looked up the most egregious horror I found in the paper
and read it word for shiny word
aloud like my most recent nightmare.
I guarantee,
you will say:

Yes and no.

Bear in mind,
I am also carrying a very large zucchini squash
to make my girlfriend dinner
before the dementia takes over and
in the other hand my fifth cup of decaf.
Caffeine just really does it to my heart
but I love the taste so much.
Bladder has loosened;
the smell of urine is defiantly present.
The cane is absent.
Almost,
so am I.
I have enough left to yell
as you
(no walker or anything)
saunter away in your freshly shined loafers,
slick sticky hair,
a pressed shirt that stated
“I handle with care”
and barely a glance at the woman
who stroked you softly to sleep
for hours at time
when you couldn’t bear to shut off your heritage,
couldn’t apologize,
couldn’t lie for the sake of God and the shared French press,
when you couldn’t bear to handle a shirt or yourself or
a fragile, Polish nest, or really,
anything at all that had to with
this.
Us
I’ll know you by your ostentatious watch
keeping time for all of us.

I gather the last of my lung power,
the last of my optimism,
the last of my memory,
the last of my resilient crone blood
and I yell,
all sparkle eyes,
all natural smiles:
Well, I hope tomorrow it’s all yeses!

That is us at our best.

“the elevator”

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