Watching Mother Disappear and other poems by Toni Mergentime Levi

Watching Mother Disappear & Other Poems

by Toni Mergentime Levi

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The old ones and their children weep for the gossamer mothers who have floated away. The children pray for their mothers to die. Such a kind and terrible wish. My sister and I allow it on the telephone. We cannot speak it looking one another in the eye. The driver of the ambulette brings in a wheelchair. Mother lets herself be placed without a murmur, as though this happened every day. Amazed, we suddenly remember how to breathe. I fetch her doctor's order: “DNR — Do Not Resuscitate” off the kitchen wall. My hand bursts into flame. When I talk to Mother, she looks vaguely at someone else, as though they were the speaker. But she gets jealous and sarcastic if two people talk and don't include her. What I do is: talk to another person but look at her. She is making converts to her ways. Sometimes amidst her jungle of gibberish, Mother says, “Is everyone all right?” Or “Do you need any money?” Bless her! Even if it’s just mechanical: a phonograph needle dropped into one or two surviving grooves. For awhile I reminded her what a wonderful mother, wife and teacher she had been. “Really?” she said, trying to find that person in the fog. Now those nouns are meaningless. So I can only tell her she is beautiful. Her beauty still matters to her most. For the first time, my sister and I are glad that this is so.
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