A young man crept down the urine-pained hallway,
visiting a stroke-wrecked grandmother in an old folk’s home.
Went into the room of the once vital woman
who could no longer speak, only move her eyes,
blink yes or no when questioned.
Outside Grandmother’s room, from the main room,
a sound, a sound he did not want to hear,
repeated over and over, indecipherable
from a white-haired woman—thin as paper,
rolling her wheelchair around as if she were dancing with an invisible partner,
the sound, the sound, like the rasp of a sick crow,
two words, repeated, repeated,
ears straining to understand the frantic crone’s plea.
As if turned into a harpy, she would start
and not stop, never stop, like a bed pan sloshed across nerves,
like tripping over a stringy mop,
the caw would never cease,
making him want to scream as he ran out into the hallway,
driven mad as if Poe’s raven lit on the doorjamb once more.
‘Nurse, Nurse, what is she saying?’
“Forgive me; she is saying: Forgive me. That’s all she ever says.”
‘For what! Forgive me for what!’
“We don’t know. She says that every day. Forgive me. Forgive me. Drives us crazy.
The more she says those two words, the more she swirls her chair around,
sometimes in a frenzy. She was once a famous ballerina.
That’s all we know.”
Years later, he forgot the ballerina, after his grandmother died.
In his own nursing home, pulling a comforter over his gray head,
from the ever cold, he remembered,
At Walgreen’s soda fountain
when Mom worked there,
so much fun!
In a booth,
we ripped open the paper,
slid it down the straw,
just past half-way,
how far was key.
Accordioned the paper,
sent the missile into
our laughing faces,
my brother and me.
Mom taught us
like a little kid.
What other Mom somersaulted?
Mom blew hard
her Lana Turner eyes flashing.
Direct hit to the nose!
Before the divorce
sometimes Dad showed up.
No! No blowing! No!
JUST A TREE
“It’s just a tree, Grammy.”
Our five-year-old grandson
comforts my wife
as we watch
orange-helmeted, goggled workmen
cut down her cherished maple,
wracked by the heartless storm.
Tears fall, branches wave
as if calling for help.
Tree falls, crushes memories,
parents knelt before the sapling
planted when their son was born,
hope the tree they planted
for their daughter
will live longer.
It's gotten bad enough
this blue vs red embroilment.
heats up more every day,
nick the red and blue veins,
like the First People blood brothers
instead of killing,
mix the states up,
re-locate the angst.
Relate to new neighbors?
Do things differently?
Put down your guns,
replace stars with olive branches.
Do it now.
© Vern Fein
Visit his Poetry and Prose Website: https://www.vernfein.com/