I put Sanka on the serving tray,
choose a spoon from the hoard
the hag’s collected in a drawer,
pull a sheet of Bounty and fold in thirds.
I rest my load on her threadbare chair.
Mrs. Goldberg’s kitchen range is limited,
being of its time (c. 1950).
Still, it chugs on like a steam engine,
warming the cold kettle, tics and sighs.
I can certainly wait, I mean, my god,
I’ve been on permanent pause
since she fell in the flower bed,
and cracked her pelvis
as she ended the perennials.
She cried out, and
I said I’m here for you, Miss.
I wipe my eyes with a kerchief,
straighten bowtie and peer at face creases
reflected in toaster sheen
while the teakettle screams.
I creak back up to weary feet
and fill her mug with searing steam.
Hoisting the tray, I shuffle the long hall,
the shining foyer. I climb the endless stair.
Outside her bedroom door,
my knuckles hang in the air.
I brace against the maddening repetitions.
(Ah? Who is it?
Well, who the hell could it be, old woman?)
I clear my throat
First published in The Fulcrum Online 2005-2006, ed. 1