“Grandmother’s Timing” by M.L. Brown

M.L. Brown


My grandmother lies at home
in her old body. Another home
might be better, another body,
but in this life stretched
far beyond its natural span,
she sometimes makes a trip
from bed to nearby chair
with others—visiting nurse,
home health-aide, granddaughter—
cursing us, galled to need our help.
We start her on wobbly legs
and set her steady into place
like pinspotters in a bowling alley
only not so automatic.
We could use such a device,
a mechanical guardian angel, something
we could ask a handyman to install,
to hover, pick her up and set her down at will
before she thinks to move herself
from place to place, from bed to kitchen
to make a cup of tea, before that moment
when the caretaker turns her head,
leaves the room to answer the phone,
the door, before that one instant
when grandmother is off and

asking for help
the only lesson left for her to learn.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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