21 April 2009

An anniversary

19. Grandpa Holds Her

My mother’s father sewed things:
pants and vests and shirts and jackets
and this brown-and-grey quilt we drape over
her thin body, the fabric squares rising and falling
as the ventilator pumps air into her,
to make her presentable, so she can
mingle at parties, stroke her son’s hair,
play bridge with the Levmans. Well,
it makes her chest go up and down.

She is detached.

These are her breaths now. Look at her go.
She lies beneath the quilt her father made.
I read her prayers in Hebrew. I read her Wordsworth.
I read her a psalm that had become such a cliché
but now it’s real. Yay, though.

Her father holds her in his quilt,
takes her into his arms, pulls
her to the place he went, with its
wood-panelled walls and itchy green chair.

Soon there is only the quilt.

—from "Hospitality Suite," by Stuart Ross, Dead Cars in Managua (DC Books, 2008)


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