THE CLOCK SHOE
Mother can't remember who I am,
talks in riddles, shifts place
and time mid-sentence.
Her body looks the same, her face
under a tent of tidy gray hair,
sweet, alert, yet wild-eyed.
Of the memories we shared
and used to laugh about
I have my half only.
She thinks she's in trouble
with her mother for staying out too late
with a girlfriend, both long dead.
Today when I visit Mother
she opens the door a crack.
She calls me aside to ask,
"Who is that man?
He's very nice, and I don't
want to hurt his feelings,"
as she points to my father,
"but I really must have him leave now."
They've been wed for fifty years.
I give her that simple Alzheimer's test, the task
of drawing a clock face with paper and pencil,
but she ponders, "Hmm, a clock?"
and stalls. "I could draw a violin."
A clock sits on the table in front of her
and she deftly draws a shoe. "A clock shoe,"
we laugh and begin a new set of memories
that will last her only for minutes.
From Prairie Schooner
Startled by his bare foot
hidden all these years
beneath black socks, I look
at my father’s bone whiteness
standing on a dark braided rug,
see his slender toes, their fragile
grip on his world, and a large
angular bunion, a secret burden
he’s pressed beneath him
for much of eighty-five years.
I wish to thank Jean Tolle for her generous help
and assistance regarding this publication. G.Mesh
He has asked me to help him -
something he’s never asked before -
to clip his split nail that keeps snagging,
like memory, on tiny threads.
I am motionless,
lost in the whiteness of this foot.
From Willow Review
At Pioneer Park I search for the giant swings
where once I flew with the eagle
and found the secrets of Indians.
I reach the chain link barrier where
an honest herd grazed on the short grass
of the plains that went forever to my young eyes.
I knew if I climbed over that ten-foot barrier
and followed the buffalo I could find
the edge of the world.
Today I see two: scraggly, dusty,
hunched over they look weak.
I turn my back and walk up the rock-imbedded hill
where a statue kneels, fanning his fire
with a metal blanket. I look skyward
for messages, but only see clouds.
From Midwest Quarterly
I smell onions browning
and our old white frame
house reappears like a puff
of flour dusting the air,
its gray shingled roof muted
by bright shutters added,
her solution for zest.
This night my child interrupts
as I prepare the soup.
I spill the flour, and add
too much sherry. I am startled
to hear an old woman
speak through my lips, “Don’t
bother me when I’m cooking.”
From Midwest Quarterly