The Pretty Aide at the Nursing Home,
you tell us, doesn’t remember her own name,
forgets she used to work in another town
two hours away at Hiester Lanes
where, for thirty years, you bowled near-perfect games
in that other life where you walked and drove
and lived sometime long before now in this unfamiliar town
near us, where she insists she’s always lived.
Daily, she smiles, shakes her head, claims she’s never held
a bowling ball, cheered loudly for your league
or any other, never learned to keep score.
Still, after trimming your toenails,
rubbing lotion on your cracked skin,
adjusting the TV to American Bowling Congress,
and re-filling your empty paper cup, she’s remembered
to sneak in an extra sugar cookie, leftover
from yesterday’s Valentine’s Day party
from which she wheeled you back to your room
early when you began to weep for what she refuses,
even now, to recall of a life she did not have,
in a town she’s never seen
at a place she did not work, using the name
that you insist she declines, even now, to remember.
It is your leaving that I love
Naked in the naked way day wakes
to morning, stretched up, muscling
from heel to head-shine the backs of everything:
hand grasp of calves and balls and rear;
flesh loose, tight, turning
not into face or front never!
but toward the backdrop of your back,
those hallway lights highlighting each exit
as "now," "before," or "will be"
without worry or forethought.
(We leave to separate, separate to return). Oh
the beauty of a back moving
away, the predictable
rhythm of limbs that leave
to come again.
Winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize, Lock Haven University English Professor Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation and True, False, None of the Above—What She Was Saying (prose); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania(co-editor); Presence (assistant editor). See www.marjoriemaddox.com
Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems (Nov. 2019, reprint)
A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry (Nov. 2019, reprint)
Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises (early 2020)
I'm Feeling Blue, Too! (illustrated by Philip Huber, 2020)
Begin with a Question (poems, 2021)
Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (on my father's heart transplant): https://wipfandstock.com/transplant-transport-transubstantiation.html
What She Was Saying (stories):http://fomitepress.com/FOMITE/Saying.html