by Tamara Madison
She wore mules with maribou poufs,
clear plastic high-heels to show off
toned calves, slim ankles, high arches.
Now she wears flat shoes in two sizes,
a brace on one foot, compression socks.
There are thick calluses on the braced foot.
I cut her nails, work the scissors under
the thick keratin to clip the bent-under tips.
I put lotion on her feet and legs; skin
flakes off, skin that hasn’t seen the sun
in tens of years. I help her dress for breakfast,
clean up when she doesn’t make it
to the toilet. She jokes about being dressed
like a baby by her daughter. How awful
to have lived too long! she says.
Before she goes to bed she lays out
tomorrow’s knit pants and top,
lines up the brace and two-sized shoes,
and says a prayer for everyone on her list
before falling asleep with the thought
that maybe this will be the night when He
comes to bear her away in his chariot of air.
* * * * *
Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac, Sheila-Na-Gig, and many other publications. She has recently retired from teaching English and French in Los Angeles and is happy to finally get some sleep. More about Tamara can be found at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.