Tonight my longtime friend will try to explain to me why her dementia (still in the early stages) sometimes makes her incoherent. She’s tried this before. She knows that halfway through her explanation she will find words getting harder to form, and she will quit in mid-sentence. She doesn’t want me to give advice. She just wants someone to listen, someone like me.
I stumble on the pathway
leading to the gate.
More The Whirligig #276
More Writers’ Pantry #30 at Poets and Storytellers United
If you wait until the end comes, friend—
the end of the world, I mean—
to pick up a book and read,
you will never find out
how love and lust,
though cousins, differ,
and why one is far superior to the other.
Luck may sometimes nudge you in the right direction,
toward love and not toward lust,
but how lucky can you be if you are not a reader?
crammed with memories,
one in particular:
rising at the meadowlark’s song
to walk across the dew-drenched grass,
her feet bare and cold and wet,
humming little nonsense tunes
to greet the light, bolder now
than when she’d left the house,
turning to see him at the window,
her ancient father;
how small he looks,
how like a cattail reed,
brown and brittle
at summer’s end—
and then he is falling,
clutching at his breast,
sailing off beyond the morning light,
the midday light, every light
there ever was or will be.
Pulling her phone from her skirt
pocket, she calls her friend:
“It’s over now. Come.