Poem for my Grandmothers

wchair skeleton
photo: Wheelchair Skeleton | by cindy4752 on flickr

“Poem For My Grandmothers” by Sharon Rauenzahn

The nursing home smells
less bad than they usually do.
Someone has cleaned up the urine,
hung potted plants,
made an effort to make the place
a little less hospital,
a little less un-home.

The sane among them knit baby caps,
carve wooden trains,
take dance lessons this week,
web-browsing the next,
or merely sit and watch things grow
in the courtyard sun.

Others keep their own pursuits.

The smiling woman waves,
says “That’s my grandson.
He’s taking me home tomorrow!”
of every man who passes by.

The angry woman slams her wheelchair against the wall,
backing and slamming, until a nurse materializes,
wheels her back down the hall.

“I don’t like this hotel,” my grandmother complains.
“They change the rooms around,
And then you miss breakfast.”

Behind an open door, a man shouts
“Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!”
at the top of his lungs
to an empty room.

Across the hall, my grandma the pastor’s wife
lifts her hands again to lead the singing,
all this endless
Alzheimer’s Sunday.
“That poor man,” she whispers,
between verses.
“He’s lost his dog!”

January 1, 2008 (Rev. 6/17/13)


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