Anna M. Evans
INCONCLUSIVE APPOINTMENT WITH THE SPECIALIST
I'm angry at men, beginning with my father;
next up: the boss who sat me on his knee,
the doctors, my manipulative lover.
I'm angry at my husband who would rather
spend long weekends at work than talk to me.
I'm angry he's becoming like my father.
I'm angry at the nurse, who tells my brother
how I must face my new fragility.
I'm angry that you think I dreamed the lover.
I'm angry at my kids who never bother
to pause while Life and Death flip coins for me.
In truth I'm livid, not just at my father.
I'm furious men laugh when they discover
women my age still harbor fantasies.
I'm outraged they don't want to be my lover.
A pill? the doctors say. Their fingers hover
above prescription pads I do not see
for tears. All men remind me of my father.
Not long to wait now for these bones, my lover.
* * *
A DIFFICULT JOB
The aides have callused hands and wear flat shoes;
they're mostly women, some my age, some young
with facial piercings and banal tattoos
their uniforms can't hide. They move among
the residents with iron deliberation–
it's time for Rosalie to take a shower;
Angie's having lunch with a relation–
in this dictatorship they are in power,
perhaps the only power they've ever had?
The wage is minimal, the hours hard.
They're decent people. Why should I feel bad
watching one escort, like a prison guard,
Elizabeth–who has been drawn, once more
to hover, her face tense with real concern,
beside the recessed and secured door–
back to a chair. They aren't brutal, but stern
like pre-school teachers, raising tired voices
and talking down to their reluctant classes,
who are denied autonomy and choices,
and given pulp-free juice in plastic glasses.
I hate it when I hear one of them call
Iris, batty; most, though not unkind,
treat Elinor as though she isn't all
still there, as if now Alzheimer's defined
these humans who were lovers, wives and mothers.
When Angie said she wasn't ready for death,
I felt that fierceness rooted in the others–
life, on these terms, still worth every breath.
The aides are part of the terms. So am I. Once more
I take my timesheet, wave, let myself out.
Elizabeth makes a dash for the closing door.
One grabs her gently, turns her back about.