The maze of hallways all seem
the same, nurse’s stations with sad
still faces and bent backs,
watching the clock until a light blinks
until another patient wanders past
the invisible fence of the floor.
My father-in-law does not remember
me, a stranger he met when his mind
was already broken,
Sometimes he smiles when I enter
his room, more often he cries
for his momma.
My back bends with the nurse
we hold him up to dress or bathe
while he spits curses and yells
or jokes with the cute blonde.
I am weary
I want to go home.
We had one good day
he told me his same old stories
we sang, The Old Rugged Cross,
I’ll cherish, burdens I lay down
the smile on his face
the light in his eyes.
The last week he was in his room
a house much too large for two
my husband and his mother, his brothers
none knew how to fix it, grief
was a squatter, invisible I wrung
my hands, I felt so helpless.
After we said goodbye to him
the light was gone from us,
wicked wounding words, stricken by fear
faithless, broken we had become
our legacy, lingering loss of trust
a last word
for a last word.
My husband’s eyes and hands
dimpled smile so like his father’s,
watching him sometimes frightens me.
Will he forget who I am?
Will we be strangers one day,
or were we all along?