The Poet Spiel

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In this rare moment of clarity,
Gerald says my eyes should be brighter,
I should be taller and more handsome —
like he remembers — when we were young.

He’s right.
I stood taller and my eyes were bright;
but I wonder if he recalls that he was taller and does he know that his eyes are hollow glass now; not so easy for me to love?
I suppose I should be thrilled that he can speak,
tho lately he’s mistaken me for my haughty brother;
and today, he calls me Bessie — my long dead sister’s name.

Just like he used to do when we dressed in cowboy garb to dance the boy bars
and he always said I wobbled on my boot heels —  
just like Bessie wobbled on those dreadful pearly stilettos
we bought for her on our first Greyhound bus outing
from Denver to Fredericks of Hollywood.

Then, when Bessie croaked, her stilettos became sacred.
These days, I brush Gerald’s teeth the same way I cared for Bessie’s shoes
but he spits them out and he gags on baby food — 
then shakes his fist at me like he doesn’t know who I am.

So, I shove his dentures between my gums to bite down on Bessie’s heels,
but they pierce my tongue.
I press my face to Gerald’s breast just to feel;
but the pulse I feel is my own heart.


Originally published in Poesias