The Daughter Who Tends to Her Mother
I cook her favorite turnip,
boil her tea, butter her toast –
it’s been like this seemingly forever,
just the two of us, from morning to evening –
I would plan my escape
but I have no place to go.
I soap her slowly, garnish her meals,
massage her shoulders,
lay beside her to listen for breathing.
I have just touched my own nerve –
all that scrubbing, the attempt to be tender
but with a sour taste in my mouth
of all I am missing out on,
with afternoons in sunlit rooms,
making sure she takes her medicine,
no longer mother and daughter
but two old cow elephants
with sagging breasts, faces drying, wrinkling,
hands rheumatic, our skins so alike
that could easily fold around the one body.
My burden is that I am the one person she can trust,
not my other sisters with their family rituals,
not my father, buried once again every time she sighs.
I am the subject of her bad humor,
her fickle taste in friends.
The weather is my fault
as is the temperature of the bathwater,
the severity of her migraines.
Mostly we sit in silence.
She examines the bruises on her legs.
I will inherit them some day.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.