It’s the look of vacancy, of emptiness, where even the emotions of extreme engagement are barely discernible and able to be seen often only the flurry of flailing arms and gentle fists. Mom is “cold get me back to my room when are we going home I’m thirsty I’m cold where are my shoes when are we going home are we back yet?” She groans in gutteral chants, echoes against the emptiness, an almost-manic moaning that is loud then not loud but never stops..
Are we going home now?
Yes, mom, tomorrow
when is he coming
someone is coming he is bringing something from home
Something I hope he’s ok and didn’t..
MOM! Look at the window!
And for a few minutes again the moans and groans, painless physically, who knows emotionally, or if there is even a spiritually left? There are others, so many others here under one roof, under the same sky, under screwball heaven. There are jams of wheelchairs in the hallways, hollering, cursing, crying, calling. Does anyone know where they are, what day it is, who’s your daddy?
I try to sing something low and slow but she can’t hear. And there is the stink of somebody’s shit in the hallway and here comes the aide to clean it up but still it wafts, in waves it wafts and the moans now groans, perhaps a song perhaps the only way to scream, continue..
and now Mom is up on her elbows, wide awake, but not wanting to leave the room. She has a roommate who I never see- I look in the bathroom to see if she is in there dead, but I have only seen her once and then she was fighting with her nurse, You’re better than me! Leave me alone! And the pictures on her wall show a happy anniversary (50?) with a happy husband and happy children and grandchildren and now I don’t now where she is. I only know this about her: she is not in the bathroom.
There is nothing on mom ‘s walls- we don’t have to prove our love for her to others, that’s been done and if we loaded the walls down with pictures she would see none of them and know none of them- us- her progeny, her issue, her genetic touchstones with eternity, in the near galactic future anyway. Her comprehension extends now (it seems) to water, cold, some pretty colors, “home” (whichever one I don’t know and neither I think does she).
Shit. (the smell and the circumstances) Call it a prayer or call it a curse. They both sound the same. The line in McCarthy’s The Road: “There is no god and we are his prophets.” Or, there is and we are: Look! Look! This is the way the whole world ends, the whole world ends, not with a bang, but a
and claws scuttle across the ocean floor while we lie etherized on the corner of Main Street and Vine waiting for the Christmas Sale at Target or the end of the world whichever comes first. Both will be accompanied by moans this year. And aging cheerleaders in fading, fraying sweaters jump up and down in the twilight of the American empire urging the crowds with no money to find some more and buy some stuff “Duty! Duty! Duty! Gooooooooooo and Groooooooow GNP GNP GNP!”
She lies staring through eyes with no twinkle at a ceiling where no conjured or suggested dreams are possible. The TV is off and even when it is on it is no more than a light and nothing but noise and there is no music and there is no laughter, maybe never again. Mom! Smile! Laugh! But she doesn’t know who I am or what the words mean or when she is going home, so
It’s cold It’s cold When are they coming? Are they here?