“What My Parents Want” by Devika Brandt

Devika Brandt


At 86 Dad wants a new silver Mercury with heated seats.
Mom wants whatever Dad wants. We’re on the phone,
and I’m scrubbing the kitchen floor with my headset
on, scratching at the black sap marks that stick and
spread before finally letting go. We’re all tired of talking.
So I don’t ask them about moving closer to their kids;
I don’t mention the nurse they fired; I don’t say I think
they’re making a mistake. I breathe hard and tackle
a tough wad of sap. They tell me how cold it is in Las Vegas
in the winter; how the mountains turn purple in their rise
toward the sky. I don’t ask them if they’re eating. I keep
myself from mentioning their many medications. They
want me to love them; they want me to leave them alone.
They want to fumble along the walls of their stucco
house until one falls down, cheek to the cool tile
of the floor, bones so heavy, joints stiff, life blood
thick and unwilling. I hope the other one will lie down too,
pull an afghan over them, the one with squares her mother
made. I hope in the accumulating heat of the desert
they will gasp into each other’s arms and give themselves
away. I hope they can do it without breaking. I hope
they can do it in the clean sweet heat of the day, an open
mouthed entry, the last ripe fruits of breath released.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007
Rattle Poetry Prize Honorable Mention

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