No time, he says, as he lifts my grandmother
from her wheelchair to the toilet and back again
spoons rice and cubed JELL-O past unsmiling lips
into her gaping baby-bird mouth
then eases her onto the sofa, careful
to tuck the beaded flannel beneath her chin.
Meanwhile, what was once jubilant rows
of tassled corn and sturdy pole beans
now snarls like a half-starved dog
whose coat is thick with burrs and tangles,
and as my grandmother’s breath shuffles in and out
my grandfather dreams of tomatoes:
fat Beefsteak and juicy Better Boys,
Early Girls blushing pink then flaming red,
remembers summers spent weeding and watering,
how he’d palm the tomatoes, give them the slightest twist,
then sit back on his heels as the fruit burst
like fireworks against the back of his teeth.
From The Color of Lost Rooms (Blue Rooster Press, 2010), winner of Writer’s Digest’s 19th Annual
Self-Published Book Prize for Poetry.
Used here with the author’s permission.