|Image posted by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tales #87|
If as Sartre said, “L’enfer, c'est les autres”*
why don’t we beat them up
instead of ourselves?
It was a hellish day -
life in metaphor;
make the bed, do dishes,
murmur a few prayers.
Drive her to the lab.
Wrestle her walker up the long ramp,
turn left near the top
for the steeper incline to the door,
guide her through the dark twisting hall.
Left, right, right, left
to the dawn of the lab door,
flood of light inside.
But all was for naught;
she’d forgotten the lab order.
Blood could not be drawn
without the paper work.
Retreat through the back allies
of the doctor’s office to the off ramp;
curses murmured in smoldering silence.
Return home to retrieve the lab order.
Drive to the Lifespan Lab closer to home;
a few short steps and in,
a lovely place, lovely lady.
Can’t find her medical card – no problem,
“Call me with the number.”
No phone number listed for the new lab,
call the headquarters, hear a fax tone,
more silent fuming.
Call the doctor next door to the lab,
get the number, mission complete.
Settle her in, return home
to bake the birthday pie I promised
instead of a cake – the phone rang:
lab has no computer record for her,
will I please bring her medical card,
yes, tomorrow will be fine.
Bake the pie, put the chicken in,
peel potatoes, set the table.
The door opens, he’s home.
All I saw was the bandage
on his hand when he came in,
carrying bread and milk and mail.
He hit it with the claw of his hammer;
eight stitches – on his birthday!
Three hours in the emergency room,
I didn’t know a thing, he didn’t call,
didn’t want to worry me: “It’s nothing”.
It’s not about hellish days,
not about others;
she’s ninety, she forgets –
and I live in the clouds.
It’s about beating myself up
for the short-cut prayers in the morning,
the smoldering impatience, building to anger,
the helplessness, the guilt of inattention.
It’s about gladly slipping my own neck
into the iron noose I choose to stew in,
chewing on others, gnashing my teeth,
watching for an exit - waiting for grace.
*From the play, “No Exit”, by John Paul Sartre, 1944.