Sideways Talk

Sideways Talk

I watched the sunlight slowly depart the room. Magically sucked
from the room through a closed window. Darkness. Another day
marked off. I was neither happy nor sad; mostly bored.

They told me not to worry;
they will take good care of you;
you won’t be there long.

The door to my room was thrown open
by a fat lady with a dinner tray. She flipped on the light.
I saw her face and knew I was in for it.

Her face flushed red and her mouth drooped at the corners.
She placed the tray on a stand next to my wheelchair, flopped down,
and began. Matter-of-factly. Here’s your dinner, dearie.

Her voice was maudlin as the apple sauce. A few can do this:
some nurses, some teachers, even some friends, and family;
spewing honey from their lips, with nastiness gurgling in their bellies.

She lifted a spoon of cold soup toward my lips and slopped it. Oh,
so sorry. Did I get some on your gown? She changed the subject.
Do I smell something?

Yes, I’m sure you smell something.
In this place, you always smell something.
Something unpleasant? Maybe it’s you.

I don’t see why you couldn’t wheel yourself down to dinner.
The whole world doesn’t turn around you.
I didn’t want dinner. That’s why. Still don’t.

Would you stop staring out the window, sweetie? Time to eat. . .
Now you stop looking at me like that.
Do I smell something?

What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Sit there and don’t talk, why . . . why,
you’ll turn into an old crone before you die.

Oh, how I wanted to talk; wanted to tell her things;
wanted to scream! But I couldn’t. A stroke they said.
She knows this. Not long, the doctor said.

I’d like to raise my arm and grab her fat hand. Twist and squeeze
hell out of it. End her little charade. End it all.
If I could only lift my arm.

I could hate her. But I don’t. She doesn’t want to be here.
Neither do I. Actually, I wouldn’t mind being her. Anyone but me.
Anywhere but here. Not long.

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