By Marian Glaser © June, 1996
June looked at her dropped book.
She could reach down risking a fall
or wait for help.
She could imagine lying with
a broken hip, rescue, removal
from this home, sirens blaring, as
she left her house, street, district.
Now here she was, watching
distraction from her now constant pain,
surcease of her boredom and loneliness,
an all too brief escape into another world,
lying there, nestled on the faded pattern of her Persian rug
near the leg of the carved teak table
she and Ed had bought at that Indian bazaar.
That memory stirred up one
of that awful morning ten years ago
when she had woken to find Ed’s dear face
cold and dead
beside her on the pillow.
Her reach hung nearby.
The pages might tear but
she’d chance that.
It beat waiting for six hours to watch
her daughter stoop,
sigh with exasperation
and hand her a volume she wished she
had time to read herself.
Her daughter’s world was full
of work, husband, children.
Dropping in after a day dealing with students
sent to the vice-principal’s office by desperate teachers
to find her mother unable to deal
with this book
would make her talk brightly about
the virtues of nursing homes.
June had seen friends enter and disappear often without dying.
She’d drunk tea, laughed and talked with Frances
almost every day for twenty years.
The last time she had visited her
Frances had resembled a stone effigy,
immobile, fed, washed, diapered, dressed and moved
June reached for her reach.
Using it on a dead weight with her withered muscles
was difficult. What wasn’t at ninety?
She’d never expected to live a decade longer than Ed.
The book was back.
She could dive in again.